India, Australia sign ‘Terms of Reference’ for navy to navy talks

‘Joint Guidance for the India – Australia Navy to Navy Relationship’ document signed by Navy Chiefs of 2 countries in Aug.

The Indian Navy and the Australian Navy on Wednesday signed the ‘Terms of Reference’ (ToR) for the conduct of the navy to navy talks under the framework of the ‘Joint Guidance for the India – Australia Navy to Navy Relationship’ document, signed by the two Navy Chiefs in August. This is the first such document signed by the Indian Navy with any country.

The document set the navy to navy talks as the principal medium for guiding the bilateral cooperation, the Indian Navy said in a statement. “The document would be pivotal in consolidating the shared commitment to promoting peace, security, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” it stated.

The ToR detailed the modalities for engagement at various levels between the two navies and streamlined the process, an official source said. More such documents could be signed with countries in future, a second official source said.

The document provided flexibility for the implementation of separate agreements based on the specific outcomes of the talks. The broad scope of the guidance was focussed on developing mutual understanding, cooperating for regional security, collaborating in mutually beneficial activities and developing interoperability, the statement noted.

Highlights of document

The highlights of the document included close cooperation in regional and multilateral fora, including Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPNS), Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and expert working groups subordinate to the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus framework.

The document was aligned to the ‘2020 Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ agreed by the Prime Ministers and aimed to ensure shared approaches to regional and global security challenges.

The inaugural navy to navy talk with Australia was held in 2005. Bilateral defence relations between India and Australia have significantly expanded over the years and they have also concluded a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement. Australia is also part of the Malabar naval exercise, which also includes Japan and the U.S.

Australia has deployed a Liaison Officer at the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) as part of efforts to expand cooperation in maritime domain awareness.

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