Australia's minister of defence Richard Marles is visiting India on Monday. During his four-day stay, he will be meeting Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and other senior Indian officials

Australia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Richard Marles embarked on a four day - 20 to 23 June - visit to India on Monday. Marles said that he is "looking forward to meeting" with his counterpart, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and hold India-Australia first bilateral Defence Ministers' meet.

The meeting is expected to strengthen defence and security cooperation between both the nations.

Marles tour to India marks the first high-level visit from Australia after newly-elected prime minister Anthony Albanese took office on 23 May this year.

"Australia and India are Comprehensive Strategic Partners. I am committed to strengthening Australia's defence and security cooperation with India," said Marles.

He further said, "Minister (Rajnath) Singh has been instrumental in advancing India-Australia defence ties and I look forward to working with him to enhance the defence pillar of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership."

Apart from meeting Rajnath Singh, Marles during his India visit, also meet External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and other senior Indian officials.

Before embarking for New Delhi, the Australian defence minister said described India as "one of Australia's closest security partners" and said his government is "focused on revitalising Australia’s historically deep engagement with our partners across the Indo-Pacific".

"The rules-based international order that has brought peace and prosperity to the Indo-Pacific for decades is experiencing pressure, as we face shifts in the geostrategic order. Australia stands ready to work closer with India in support of an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific," Marles said.

He added that Australia stands ready to work closely with India in support of an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific.

Marles' visit to India comes after his Japan visit where he discussed with Japanese counterpart Nobuo Kishi China's growing acts of aggression in the Indo-Pacific.

A report by the Australian Financial Review quoted the Australian defence minister saying: "A deeper bilateral relationship with India is critically important for our country, and developing the defence and security side of that is a huge priority."

The Australian leader also said that there is huge scope for both nations to gain in the field of military.

"There is huge scope for us to do more with India and I will be keen to explore with the Indian government what can be done," the report quoted Marles as saying.

Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2022, Defence's flagship engagement activity, returns to India this year. This year also marks the 75th anniversary of India's independence.

Earlier, the Australian PM Albanese said that the relationship with India is very important and ties between the two countries have never been closer. Speaking to ANI, the Australian PM said: "Our relationship with India is a very important one and it was a great honour to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi."