New Delhi, Mar 21 (PTI) Russia needs to be held accountable for the tragic loss of lives in Ukraine in the ongoing war, and it must be ensured that such terrible events never occur in the Indo-Pacific region, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday at a virtual summit with PM Narendra Modi.
In his opening remarks, Morrison also referred to a recent meeting of the leaders of the Quad grouping on the Ukraine crisis and said it provided an opportunity to discuss the "implications and consequences" of the developments in Europe for the Indo-Pacific.
Delving into key aspects of India-Australia ties, Modi said the conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) will be important for economic revival and economic security for both sides.
"We have good cooperation going on in Quad as well. This collaboration of ours reflects our commitment to free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. The success of the Quad is critical to regional and global stability," he said.
Modi said the ties witnessed remarkable progress in the last few years and that there has been close cooperation between the two sides in trade and investment, defence and security, education and innovation, and science and technology.
"Our collaboration has grown rapidly in many other areas such as critical minerals, water management, renewable energy, and COVID-19 research," he added.
Modi said he was happy over the establishment of a mechanism of the annual summit between the two countries as it ensures a structural system for regular review of the ties.
In his remarks, Morrison referred to the "distressing" and terrible situation in Europe which he said must "never happen in our own region".
"The tragic loss of lives underlines the importance, of course, of holding Russia to account. The cooperation between like-minded liberal democracies is key to an open, inclusive, resilient and prosperous Indo-Pacific and I welcome your leadership within the Quad to keeping its focus on those important issues," Morrison said.
He said the events that are taking place in Ukraine should never occur in the Indo-Pacific.
"I very much want to thank you for the partnership that we had while we are obviously distressed at the terrible situation in Europe. Our focus, of course, is very much on what is occurring in the Indo-Pacific and ensuring that those events never occur here in the Indo-Pacific," Morrison said.
On March 3, the leaders of the Quad countries held a virtual meeting to discuss the Ukraine crisis.
Unlike its Quad partners -- the US, Japan and Australia -- India has not condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and has been maintaining that the crisis should be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy.
"Our region is facing increasing change and much pressure and I think the Quad leaders call recently which gave us the opportunity to discuss Russia's unlawful invasion of Ukraine, but also gave us the opportunity to discuss the implications and consequences of that terrible event for our own region in the Indo-Pacific and the coercion and the issues that we face here," Morrison said.
His comments on coercion are seen as an apparent reference towards the Chinese increasing muscle-flexing in the Indo-Pacific.
Morrison said the comprehensive strategic partnership between India and Australia reflected the ambition that both shared and hold for the relationship.
"The pace and scale of the cooperation have been remarkable," he said, adding that "our ambition is to make it even closer". PTI MPB ANB ANB
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