Quad ties are set to get another boost as Prime Ministers of Australia and Japan are both expected to visit India in March, ahead of the Quad leaders’ summit in Australia, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit the U.S. later this year.
The Office of the Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Saturday announced that he will start his March 8-11 tour of India from Ahmedabad where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join him at the fourth Test match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy which will coincide with Holi. Japanese media has reported that PM Fumio Kishida will reach Delhi on March 19.
“Our relationship with India is strong but it can be stronger. It is underpinned by our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which underscores a joint commitment to working together to enhance our defence, economic and technological interests,” said Mr. Albanese who came to power last May when he had travelled to Tokyo to participate in the Quad leaders’ summit hours after being elected to the office after defeating Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“A shared passion for cricket is a hallmark of our long-standing friendship, a relationship that has been enriched by generations of Indian-Australians,” a statement from the PMO of Australia declared. The visit is being viewed as an expression of political will to growing bilateral trade, security and people-to-people contacts that received a major boost when the India Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement came into force last December.
Mr. Albanese will arrive in Ahmedabad on March 8 which is the day of Holi. He will spend a day in Mumbai before starting the official part of the visit here. Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) informed that the Australian leader will be accompanied by Senator Don Farrell, Minister for Trade and Tourism, and Madeleine King, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia and other senior officials and a high-level business delegation.
“The strategic partnership between the two countries was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in June 2020 which has been strengthened and deepened through frequent high-level exchanges and enhanced cooperation across sectors,” the MEA said in a statement. The visit from the Australian side was announced on December 29 by Mr. Albanese himself in a social media message after the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement came into force. “This will deliver new opportunities to Australian businesses,” he had said welcoming the trade pact which is part of India’s post-COVID strategy of trade with major partner countries. On Saturday, he said, “stronger India-Australia partnership is good for the stability of our region”.
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The visits by Prime Ministers Albanese and Kishida will be the first of a series of interactions that the leaders will have during this year. The three leaders are expected to meet with the U.S. President Joe Biden during the upcoming Quad leaders’ summit in Australia which will be followed by similar interactions during the G-20 summit in September.
Japanese media reported that PM Kishida is planning to visit India on March 19 for a two-day visit to meet PM Modi. According to sources, officials in Tokyo and Delhi have been trying to match schedules for a meeting, with Japan hosting the G-7 in May and India as G-20 host needing to coordinate their agenda at the highest levels. While an earlier proposed visit by PM Modi to Tokyo could not be scheduled, officials hope Mr. Kishida’s visit later this month will materialise.
PM Modi will be travelling to Hiroshima as India is a special invitee to the G-7 summit on May 19-21, and is expected to then fly to Sydney for the Quad leaders’ summit as well.
Sources said that during U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Delhi this week, Indian and U.S. officials discussed dates and logistics of a proposed visit to Washington in mid-2023, where Mr. Modi will be invited as State Guest of President Biden. The last State Visit by an Indian leader was in 2009 by then PM Manmohan Singh.