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Penny Wong brushes curly question on India

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and her Indian counterpart are meeting in Canberra.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and her Indian counterpart are meeting in Canberra. Photo: AAP

Foreign Minister Penny Wong says the relationship between Australia is deep and firm, despite New Delhi’s defence dependence on Russia.

In a joint press conference with her Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Senator Wong said the partnership between the two countries was a critical part of shaping the region.

“The Quad is functioning extremely well,” Senator Wong told reporters at Parliament House.

“The level of strategic trust and strategic consistency among Quad partners is deep and firm.”

Asked about India’s defence relationship with Moscow, Dr Jaishankar said his country turned to Russia out of necessity.

“Our Russian inventory grew for a variety of reasons … for multiple decades western countries did not supply weapons to India and in fact saw a military dictatorship next to us as the preferred partner,” he told reporters.

Dr Jaishankar described the talks as productive and comfortable, with the two countries set to deepen their diplomatic footprints with each other.

Senator Wong welcomed India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, noting he told Vladimir Putin in September “this is not the time for war”.

On Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS security pact, Senator Wong said the nation had an “impeccable” track record of complying with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

She said Australia was not seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

India backed Australia against a Chinese draft resolution with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which would have sought to block the nuclear-powered vessels from being delivered to Australia.

Asked if India would abstain from voting on the United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Dr Jaishankar said he wouldn’t reveal his country’s position in advance.

He said his country was clearly against the conflict in Ukraine and was concerned about how the global south was being impacted by food and fuel price hikes.

– AAP

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