Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Australia has included a surprise meeting with pop star Guy Sebastian, as the leader lauded the “trust and respect” between India and Australia.
Speaking before a crowd of 20,000 enthusiastic supporters at a rally at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney’s Olympic Park, Mr Modi emphasised that the strong relationship between the two nations goes beyond diplomacy or “cricket and curry”.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi received a rock star welcome at a rally in western Sydney. Picture: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images
However, before the rally, Mr Modi met with several people, including Australian singer Guy Sebastian. Sebastian, whose mother grew up in India, took to Instagram to share a photo of the meeting, describing it as a “great honour”.
“Guy Sebastian is a remarkable singer and has unparalleled passion towards music. In addition, he is passionate about social service as well. I was glad to have interacted with him today,” Mr Modi said on Twitter.
Sebastian also expressed his admiration for Mr Modi’s warmth and kindness.
“It was an incredible honour meeting his excellency. He was so warm and so kind. Just listening to everything with such respect.”
Pop star Guy Sebastian met with Mr Modi, with the pair discussing music and a connection to Kanpur, India. Picture: Twitter
The pop star also revealed that they discussed music – with Mr Modi sharing a viral song called Natu Natu – as well as their shared connection to Kanpur, Sebastian’s mother’s hometown.
“It was really just a beautiful time for me,” Sebastian said, “and the first person I’m gonna call when I leave is my mother – she was so excited I was meeting his excellency. So yeah, it’s a huge honour.”
Amid the supporters, a small contingent of protesters were at yesterday’s Sydney Olympic Park rally.
Around 60 protesters carrying yellow “Khalistan” flags gathered outside the stadium, advocating for an independent Sikh state in India’s north, known as “Khalistan”.
They voiced their opposition to Indian government policies, with riot police reportedly having to intervene to prevent clashes between the protesters and Mr Modi’s supporters.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Narendra Modi. The visit aims to enhance trade ties, with discussions expected on defence, security co-operation and formalising a full trade pact. Picture: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images
Mr Modi also met various other prominent Australian figures spanning fields such as science, artificial intelligence, social work, art and music.
Those he met included astrophysicist and Nobel laureate Brian Paul Schmidt, sanitation advocate Mark Balla, artist Danielle Mate and restaurateur Sarah Todd.
Others invited to meet Mr Modi included AI scientist Professor Toby Walsh and sociologist Salvatore Babones.
Dancers performed in traditional Indian costume on stage. Picture: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images
Mark Balla, known as a “toilet warrior,” praised Mr Modi as a global change-maker in the sanitation space, while chef Sarah Todd described him as an “incredible influencer”.
Professor Schmidt expressed his admiration for Mr Modi’s leadership and hailed him as one of India’s most visible leaders.
Inside the venue, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese joined Mr Modi in unveiling a “Little India” plaque, which will be installed in Harris Park, a thriving hub of Indian culture in Western Sydney.
Mr Albanese also announced the establishment of a new Centre for Australia-India Relations in Parramatta.
Push for deeper trade ties between nations
Mr Modi’s visit to Australia comes after the cancellation of the scheduled Quad meeting, which was set to bring together leaders from the United States, Australia, Japan, and India.
US President Joe Biden’s decision to prioritise American national debt issues led to the cancellation.
Talks between Anthony Albanese and Narendra Modi will get under way today. Picture: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images
Mr Modi’s talks with Mr Albanese today are expected to cover subjects including defence, security co-operation and trade.
The two nations signed a historic interim trade deal last year, and formal negotiations on a comprehensive pact are anticipated to continue.
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As Mr Modi’s visit progresses, the focus on expanding trade ties remains a priority.
Mr Albanese has repeatedly emphasised the significance of growing trade relations, and Mr Modi is likely to leverage his meetings with senior business leaders in Sydney to promote investment opportunities.
Read related topics:Anthony AlbaneseSydney