Australia and India, with Japan and the United States, make up the Quad alliance that is seen as a bulwark against China’s assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
Albanese’s four-day visit to India included a Thursday reception aboard the INS Vikrant, India’s first homemade aircraft carrier, where he announced new joint military drills.
“Security cooperation is an important pillar in the comprehensive strategic partnership between India and Australia,” Modi said on Friday at a joint press briefing after a private meeting.
Australia and India made “significant and ambitious” progress in strengthening defence and security ties and also discussed climate change issues, Albanese said.
“We discussed the increasingly uncertain global security environment and committed to strengthening the Australia-India defence and security partnership,” Albanese said.
“We also agreed on an early conclusion of our ambitious CECA as soon as possible and I am hopeful that we will be able to finalise that this year,” Albanese told reporters.
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“This transformational deal will realise the full potential of the bilateral economic relationship, creating new employment opportunities and raising living standards for the people of both Australia and India.”
Bilateral trade between the countries was $27.5 billion in 2021 and India says trade has the potential to nearly double to $50bn in five years under the ECTA.
Friday’s meeting came a day after the leaders watched the opening morning of the fourth cricket Test together in Modi’s home state of Gujarat.
Both men performed a lap of honour aboard a cricket-themed golf cart at the start of the match, where Australia are fighting to avoid a series loss and India need a win to secure a World Test Championship berth.
“We are competing on the cricket field to be the world’s best, but together we are building a better world,” Albanese told reporters.
Albanese flies out of New Delhi on Saturday morning and will host Modi in Australia for the next Quad leaders meeting in May.