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Australian Air Force Chief holds talks with three service chiefs

NEW DELHI (PTI): Chief of Royal Australian Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld on Monday held wide-ranging talks with the top military brass of India on ways to further enhance bilateral military cooperation.

The visiting military officer also called on Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and discussed ways to boost defence ties between the two countries.

Air Marshal Hupfeld held separate talks with Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari and Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar.

"Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, Chief of Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force #RAAF called on General Manoj Pande #COAS and discussed aspects of Bilateral Defence Cooperation," the Army tweeted.

The Indian Air Force said "Air Marshal Hupfeld and Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari discussed issues of mutual interest and ways to enhance bilateral defence cooperation".

"Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, Chief of Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force called on Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari #CAS today in New Delhi. Issues of mutual interest and ways to enhance bilateral defence cooperation were discussed," it tweeted.

In a tweet, the Navy said: "Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, Chief of @AusAirForce called on Adm R Hari Kumar, #CNS on 09 May 22. Discussions covered a wide range of issues of mutual interest, incl consolidation of #bilateral engagements in operational & trg domains."

The defence and military ties between India and Australia have been on an upswing in the last few years.

In June 2020, India and Australia elevated their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership and signed a landmark deal for reciprocal access to military bases for logistics support.

The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) allows the militaries of the two countries to use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, besides facilitating scaling up of overall defence cooperation.

The Australian Navy was part of the Malabar naval exercise hosted by India in November 2020 as well as last year.

The navies of the US and Japan were also part of it. Australia was part of the Malabar exercise this year as well.

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