Australia will not be at the periphery of India's vision but at the centre of its thought: Modi in Canberra

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Canberra, Nov 18: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that Australia will not be at the periphery of India's vision but at the centre of its thought, as he called for closer bilateral security cooperation and a comprehensive global strategy to tackle the menace of terrorism.

"We have to deepen our bilateral security cooperation. We need a comprehensive global strategy for a global problem. It will require closer security cooperation; but, even more,a policy of no distinction between terrorist groups or discrimination between nations," Modi said.

While addressing the Australian Parliament, Modi said, "It has taken a Prime Minister of India 28 years to come to Australia. It should never have been so. And, this will change. Australia will not be at the periphery of our vision, but at the centre of our thought."

India and Australia signed five pacts on social security, transfer of sentenced prisoners, combating narcotics trade, tourism, and Arts and Culture.

During the talks, the two sides sought an early conclusion of negotiations for a comprehensive economic partnership agreement and a closure on the civil nuclear deal.

Addressing the Parliament, Modi said terrorism has become a major threat.

"In India, we have seen its face closely for three decades. And, we see it with the clarity that comes with it. Terrorism is changing in character and expanding in its reach," Modi said.

"Internet has made recruitment and call to violence self-generated. It also feeds off money laundering, drug trafficking and arms smuggling. We have to deepen our bilateral security cooperation. But, we need a comprehensive global strategy for a global problem," he said.

In order to tackle the new security challenges, Modi sought closer security cooperation, a policy of no distinction between terrorist groups or discrimination between nations, a resolve to isolate those who harbour terrorists, willingness to empower states that will fight them, a social movement against extremism in countries where it is most prevalent and every effort to delink religion and terrorism.

"India sees Australia as one of our foremost partners in the region. There are few countries in the world where we see so much synergy as we do in Australia," Modi said.

Modi also called for collaboration in the field of maritime security.

"We should collaborate more on maintaining maritime security. We should work together on the seas and collaborate in international forums. And, we should work for a universal respect for international law and global norms," he said.

Modi said countries needed to ensure that outer space and cyber space remain instruments of connectivity and prosperity, not new frontiers of conflict.

More importantly, he said, both the countries can work together to deal with piracy and range of other issues related to security.

"The oceans are our lifelines. But, we worry about its access and security in our part of the world more than ever before," he said.

"Responding to the region's disasters, combating proliferation, acting against piracy, we can work together on a full range of security challenges," the Prime Minister said.

Modi said India and Australia were members of several institutions "critical" to the region and the world and both the countries should coordinate more closely on different global fora.

He said the two countries need not have to rely on borrowed architecture of the past nor did the two have the luxury to "choose who we work with and who we don't."

"But, what we do need is to work together and with others to create environment and culture that promotes the currency of co-existence and cooperation; in which all nations, small and big, abide by international law and norms, even when they have bitter disputes.

"India and Australia are members of several institutions that are critical for this region and the world. We should coordinate more closely in East Asia Summit, G20 and the Indian Ocean Region Association," Modi said.

Modi said, India's development and growth provides a long term opportunity for Australia and it has immense opportunities in the field of agriculture, food processing, mining, infrastructure, finance, technology and energy.

"We have a new Mission for turning 'Make in India' into a global name just as Computer in India is. But, we want to find new pathways to prosperity, not simply travel down the roads of the previous century. Much of India's future cities and infrastructure is yet to be built and so we have a unique opportunity to make our choices now.

"India's development, demography and demand provide a unique long term opportunity for Australia -- and all in the familiar framework of democracy. There is no other example of this nature in the world. Indian investors, too, are coming here in growing numbers and commitments," Modi said.

He highlighted that since his government came to office, no region has seen more intense engagement on India's part than Asia Pacific region.

Modi said Australia has immense opportunities to participate in India's progress and in turn, India will be the answer to Australia's search for new economic opportunities and desire to diversify global economic engagement.

He said India and Australia were connected to each other with history and geography.

Modi once again highlighted the example of Walter Griffin, who designed Canberra and was buried in Lucknow, after narrating his story to Abbott and Obama during the G20.

Modi, during his address, also talked about Australian novelist and lawyer Jang Lang, who helped Rani Laxmibai against the Birtish East India Company.

"This morning, Prime Minister and I honoured our soldiers, who 100 years ago made the supreme sacrifice together in the battle of Gallipoli. The man who designed this beautiful capital of Canberra, Walter Burley Griffin, lies buried in the old city of Lucknow in India.

"More than 150 years ago, an Australian novelist and lawyer John Lang fought the legal battle for a brave Indian freedom fighter, the Queen of Jhansi, Rani Laxmibai against the British East India Company in India's first War of Independence. He also lies buried in the Indian hill town of Mussoorie," Modi said.

He said both the nations had common love for cricket and are set to battle it out on the cricket field in December.

"We celebrate the legend of Bradman and the class of Tendulkar together. We are impressed by Australian speed as you are charmed by the Indian spin, until of course Shane Warne came along!" the Prime Minister said amidst laughter in the Parliament.

Speaking about his clear cut majority government in 30 years, the Prime Minister said there was a new "high tide" of hope and energy in India.

"Today, we have a government with a majority after thirty years. From the remotest village to the biggest cities, there is a new high tide of hope in India; a new energy. It is the energy of our youth - the 800 million people below the age of 35 - eager for change, willing to work for it - because, now they believe that it is possible. That they can make it happen. It is this force of transformation that we will unleash."

"In the six months that we have been in office, we have moved forward, thinking with ambition, acting with speed; seeking growth not just for growth, but to transform the quality of life of every Indian," Modi said.

Lauding the people of Australia for making what the nation is today, Modi said generations of people's representatives have made the country one of the greatest nations of the world.

(With PTI inputs)

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