May 27, 2024
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Today’s virtual meeting between Modi and Morrison will see Rs 1,500 crore in projects unveiled

On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison will hold a virtual summit in which they will announce initiatives worth approximately Rs 1,500 crore in areas such as education, clean technology, critical minerals, space, foreign trade, skills, innovation, and defence exchanges.

According to sources, an Australia-India young defence officers exchange programme named after CDS General Bipin Rawat, who died in a helicopter crash in December last year, will be launched on Monday. During the summit, Australia will also announce the return to India of approximately 29 culturally significant artefacts. An early harvest agreement on economy and trade is expected to be signed by the end of the month, according to sources. It was unlikely that a signing would take place at the summit.

Rs 193 crore of the Rs 1,500 crore package of initiatives will go to clean tech and critical minerals, which will primarily be used to secure lithium from Australia, among other things. Australia has significant lithium reserves and can serve as a reliable source of the vital mineral for electric vehicles and batteries. Pralhad Joshi, the Minister of Mines, is expected to travel to Australia soon to finalise details for securing the supply chain.

Rs 136 crore will be spent on a space cooperation initiative, Rs 152 crore on a foreign trade centre in Australia, Rs 97 crore on a trade, skills, and innovation initiative, and Rs 93 crore on scientific innovation. The two countries will also launch Maitri scholarships, which will be similar to the Fulbright or Rhodes scholarships. According to the sources, a centre for excellence in critical and emerging technologies will be established in Bengaluru, along with a new consulate general. An agreement on broadcasting will be finalised to broadcast Indian programs in local languages in Australia.

The Ukrainian crisis is likely to come up in the talks between the two Prime Ministers. When asked about the upcoming Ukraine crisis on Sunday, Australian High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell said that at the Quad leaders’ summit in February, all countries, including India, acknowledged that “each country has a different perspective, due to its particular bilateral relationships.”

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