A top Australian military officer visits China amid tensions in the region between Canberra and Beijing
The head of Australia’s air force has held a series of meetings with senior military officials in India, vowing to strengthen bilateral ties as Canberra warns China against further expansion into the Indo-Pacific.
Royal Australian Air Force chief Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld met separately with high-level figures in the Indian military – among them Army Chief General Manoj Pande, Air Chief Marshal VR ChaudhariAnd Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar. Each branch made brief remarks online to mark the occasion.
“Issues of mutual interest and ways to enhance bilateral defense cooperation were discussed” at the meeting, New Delhi’s air force said in a tweet, later shared by its Australian counterpart.
Hupfeld also met with Ajay Kumar, Indian Defence Secretary for an informal discussion “very warm” “friendly”In announcing the dialogue, Kumar said tweetRecommendations of his own and sharing photographs from the meeting.
Though the officials described their discussions only in broad terms, the meetings come amid growing security ties between New Delhi and Canberra, which embarked on a more intensive strategic partnership in 2020 after signing a major deal to grant mutual access to each other’s military bases. The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement, (MLSA), also increases logistics and maintenance cooperation between the sides.
Hupfeld’s visit also coincides with rising tensions between Australia and China, namely after Beijing signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands, a Pacific nation located about 1,000 miles (1,700km) off Australia’s northeastern coast. Canberra officials repeatedly denounced Beijing for the security deal and suggested that Beijing would make use of the agreement to create a military presence far from its borders.
Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, stated that a Chinese military base in Solomons could be a “remarkable” thing. “red line”For Canberra, however it was later clarified that this simply refers to Australia “work with partners to ensure that that type of an outcome would be prevented.”Although he did not say exactly how it would be done, he said that it would be. “unwise”To speculate about the possible steps Australia and its allies will take.
Chinese officials, meanwhile, have rejected Canberra’s warnings as “wild remarks to smear China and clamor for a war,”According to them, the worst predictions for the Solomons from a Chinese military base are “pure disinformation fabricated by a handful of people who harbor ulterior motives.”
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