Aiming to strengthen military ties with New Delhi, Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith will visit India to discuss defence and security cooperation.

During the visit, starting today, Smith is expected to conduct the Defence Ministers’ Dialogue with Indian counterpart A.K. Antony in New Delhi.

The Defence Ministers’ Dialogue will involve discussions on shared strategic and security interests, including maritime security, cooperation in the Indian Ocean, and regional security.

Mr. Smith will also visit Mumbai during his trip.

“I leave Australia today for India where I will visit New Delhi and Mumbai,” he said in an official statement. This will be my fourth visit to India as a Minister in the Australian Government but my first visit as Minister for Defence,” he said.

Mr. Smith, who has favoured uranium exports to India, said, “I will discuss opportunities to expand defence cooperation activities that build on the 2009 Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation.”

“Under the Declaration, Australia and India affirmed our shared desire to promote regional and global security, as well as our common commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law,” he added.

“Australia is committed to deepening bilateral relations with India, and strengthening defence and security cooperation. Australia is a member the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), an initiative of the Indian Navy. Australia will host the IONS Conclave of Chiefs in Perth in 2014,” he said.

In Mumbai, Mr. Smith will visit the Western Naval Command and the Victoria Dockyard and is expected to address the Asia Society India Centre on building the Strategic Partnership between Australia and India, the statement said.

Strategic ties between India and Australia have been on a rise in recent past and received a strong boost after the Labor party reversed the ban on uranium exports to India.

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