New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday termed the inking of the civil nuclear cooperation agreement with Australia as "a historic milestone in our relationship" and reflection of a "new level of mutual trust and confidence" in bilateral ties.
He said the agreement that will allow Australia to export uranium to India "will open a new chapter in our bilateral cooperation. It will support India's efforts to fuel its growth with clean energy and minimize the carbon footprint of its growth".
PM Modi said he and his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott "have decided to enhance our political dialogue and increase our security and defence cooperation, to which we attach great importance in our relationship".
He said he has accepted Prime Minister Abbott's invitation to pay a bilateral visit to Australia after the G20 Summit in November, remarking that there has been no prime ministerial visit from India to Australia since 1986.
"We will try and meet each other at every available opportunity. We will increase our dialogue at senior officials' level, including in the political, economic and security areas. We will also increase our consultation and coordination in important forums like the Indian Ocean Region Association and East Asia Summit," he said.
Modi said both sides will hold their first bilateral naval exercise in 2015 and intend to enhance their exercises in the coming years. Both sides will also join together in commemoration of 100 years of the First World War, and also increase security cooperation to counter terrorism, cyber threats and other security challenges.
In the field of trade and investment, he said Prime Minister Abbott has assured of speedy clearances for Indian investment proposals in the pipeline. "I invited Australian investments into India, including in infrastructure and high technology areas."
He said India is concerned about the decline in bilateral trade in the last two years and is committed to early conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
"I am delighted that we are announcing fresh funding for the Australia India Strategic Research Fund, which supports research activities in areas like clean energy, water, health, environment and food processing".
"I am pleased that Prime Minister Abbott has announced a new Colombo Plan to increase the flow of Australian students to India. Increase in youth exchanges will deepen mutual understanding and friendship between the two countries.
"Prime Minister Abbott has assured me of full cooperation in the area of skill development, which is a priority sector for me. We have also decided to promote cooperation in higher education, especially at the level of universities, to create world class educational opportunities for Indian youth," he said.
Modi, noting both their countries are bound by shared love for cricket and hockey, said he had requested Abbott for cooperation in establishing sports universities in India.
He thanked Abbott for the continuing Australian support for India's permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council.
Modi said he was confident that Australia will emerge as a strong strategic partner for India, "a very important part of our Look East Policy".
With agency inputs