India, Australia sign mutual logistics support agreement to increase military interoperability

India and Australia on Thursday signed an agreement concerning Mutual Logistics Support to increase military inter-operability through defence exercises between the two countries.

The agreement allows the two countries to access military bases for logistics support and was signed during the first virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison. During the summit, the two leaders elevated the bilateral Strategic Partnership concluded in 2009 to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP).

The two countries agreed to continue to deepen and broaden defence cooperation by enhancing the scope and complexity of their military exercises and engagement activities to develop new ways to address shared security challenges, a joint statement issued after the virtual summit said.

“Both sides agreed to increase military inter-operability through defence exercises through their arrangement concerning Mutual Logistics Support (MLSA). It was agreed that the implementing arrangement concerning cooperation in defence science and technology to the MoU on defence cooperation provides a framework for growing collaboration between the defence science and technology research organisations of both countries,” it said.

In his remarks, Morisson also emphasised the need for a mutual logistic support arrangement.

“In a time like this, we want to do very much with friends and trusted partners. This is a partnership which has stood the test during the course of this current crisis. We share a vision for open and free rules by multilateral systems in our region whether that is in the health area or it is in the trade or other places,” he said further.

Besides MLSA, India and Australia signed six more agreements. The two sides also signed three MoUs on cooperation in public administration and governance reforms, cooperation in vocational education and training and water resources management.

The two sides also unveiled a “shared vision for maritime cooperation in the Indo- Pacific” and signed seven agreements focused on crucial areas such as defence and rare earth minerals