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Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi: As Indian and Chinese troops remained engaged in a tense standoff in eastern Ladakh, Australia on Monday said it was for India and China to resolve the row bilaterally and there was no role for any other country.

At the same time, Australian High Commissioner Barry O'Farrell said his government is concerned over the growing Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea as well as China's plan to enforce a security law in Hong Kong notwithstanding the widespread protests by its citizens.

On India-Australia bilateral ties, the envoy said a mutual logistics support agreement for deeper defence cooperation as well as a number of other agreements are expected to be finalised at the online summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on Thursday.

"In the virtual summit between the two leaders, you will see the Australia-India relationship reaching a historic high, matched by an ambitious agenda by both countries on what we can achieve in the future," he told a group of journalists at an online briefing.

O'Farrell said the focus of the talks will be to boost cooperation in areas like public health, education, science and technology cooperation, cybersecurity and critical technology and defence.

"Over the past months and years, we have seen India and Australia work even more closely together on shared goals particularly in contributing to a more secure, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific," he said.

O'Farrell said further enhancing bilateral maritime security as well as expanding cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region would be the other key issues for talks.

Asked about the current military standoff between India and China in eastern Ladakh, the envoy said: "The issue is for China and India to resolve bilaterally. It is not an issue for Australia or any other country."

Last week, US President Donald Trump offered to mediate between India and China to end the face-off. However, both India and China rejected the offer, saying they have bilateral mechanisms to resolve the dispute.

On declining economic growth rate in India in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, O'Farrell said he was optimistic about the Indian and Australian economies.

"We have some of the wealthiest funds in the world and India is looking for foreign direct investment. There is a synergy between us," he said.


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