Anthony Albanese is unlikely to bring up human rights concerns or the lack of public condemnation of Russia when he holds a bilateral with his Indian counterpart on Wednesday.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was welcomed to Australia like a rock star on Tuesday night at a packed event for the Indian diaspora in Western Sydney.
He will hold a bilateral with Mr Albanese and Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong, as well as with Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and his foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham on Wednesday, in a bid to further strengthen the relationship and discuss trade, defence, and renewable energy.
But pressed on whether he would bring up concerns about human rights abuses, or India’s relationship with Russia, Mr Albanese said it was “not up to me to pass a comment on some of the internal politics in India”.
“As a democracy, they have a range of views which is a good thing,” Mr Albanese told Channel 7.
Anthony Albanese welcomes his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to Australia. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift
On ABC Breakfast, Mr Albanese was asked about the members of the Indian-Australian community who protested outside the rally on Tuesday night and again outside his Sydney residence on Wednesday morning.
Mr Modi is accused of repressing his political opponents, the media, and is accused of discriminating against Muslims.
Mr Albanese said Australia “always stands up for human rights”.
Senator Birmingham said Australia should “always be consistent and predictable” with its values and how they applied across the world.
“And of course, our values are our own. We don’t get to control what happens in any other country, but we should ensure that we at least convey the type of approach we think is important in relation to upholding democratic values that we share with India and develop and promote as part of those shared values,” he told ABC Radio.
“And we’ve underscored that as an important part of our shared interest in how we engage both at home and abroad.”
The pair will hold a bilateral meeting on Wednesday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift
Mr Albanese said even if he did raise the issue, he wouldn’t “leak the text messages”, making reference to his predecessor Scott Morrison whose texts with French President Emmanuel Macron were released to the media.
“I have a respectful relationship with Prime Minister Modi and with other leaders,” he told ABC.
India has also yet to outrightly condemn Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and continues to import Russian arms.
Mr Albanese said he “respects” India’s responsibility for its own international relations, but India continued to be a great partner for peace and prosperity.
Mr Albanese said India – which is hosting G20 this year – had been party to the G20 statement last year that condemned Russia.
“India is a great supporter of peace and security and stability in our region,” he said.
Senator Wong said Australia continued to stand with Ukraine and noted India had given public support for Ukraine’s sovereignty.
“I would note that Prime Minister Modi met with President Zelenskyy (in Hiroshima for G7), and after that meeting President Zelenskyy welcomed India’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, which is the position Australia takes,” she told Channel 9.
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