Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Saturday said he assured his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that Australia will not tolerate attacks on religious places and anyone responsible for such activities will face the “full force of the law”.
His comments came a day after Prime Minister Modi conveyed his concerns to Albanese over recent attacks on temples in Australia. Albanese said Australia is a country that respects people’s faith and it will not tolerate any attacks on religious buildings, be they Hindu temples, mosques, synagogues or churches.
The Australian prime minister also said that he briefed Prime Minister Modi on AUKUS – a trilateral security arrangement between Australia, the UK and the United States that was unveiled in September 2021.
Before he wrapped up his three-day visit to India, Albanese told a group of Australian journalists that the country’s security agencies will make sure that anyone responsible for activities such as attacks on religious buildings will face the full force of the law.
“I gave him (PM Modi) the assurance that Australia is a country that respects people’s faith. That we don’t tolerate the sort of extreme actions and attacks that we’ve seen on religious buildings, be they Hindu temples, mosques, synagogues, or churches,” Albanese said.
“This has no place in Australia. And we will take every action through our police and also our security agencies to make sure that anyone responsible for this faces the full force of the law. We’re a tolerant multicultural nation, and there is no place in Australia for this activity,” he added, according to a transcript released by the Australian PM’s office.
The Australian prime minister was asked what assurances he conveyed to Modi to protect Hindu temples in Australia.
Prime Minister Modi raised the issue of recent attacks on temples during his talks with Albanese at the first India-Australia summit on Friday.
In his media statement, Modi, standing alongside Albanese, described as a “matter of regret” the reports of attacks on temples in Australia over the past few weeks.
“The Indian community is making a significant contribution to the society and economy of Australia. It is a matter of regret that attacks on temples have been regularly reported in Australia over the past few weeks,” Modi said.
“It is natural that such news worries the people in India, and disturbs our minds. I have shared these feelings and concerns of ours with Prime Minister Albanese. And he has assured me that the safety of the Indian community is a special priority for him. Our teams will be in regular touch on this topic, and will cooperate as much as possible,” Modi said.
Briefing reporters on the summit, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said there were discussions on the disturbances created by pro-Khalistani outfits in Australia as well, adding that Prime Minister Modi expressed strong concern on the incidents of vandalism and violence targeting the Indian community and temples in that country.
In his media briefing, Albanese described his visit to India as an “extraordinarily successful” one and said it saw Australia strengthening its cultural, economic and defence ties with India.
“Australia and India have a great friendship. We have complementary economies. We can grow those economies together so much more in the future,” he said “The fact that I was accompanied here by more than 25 senior business leaders as well as 34 leaders of our clean energy industries, shows the opportunities which are there. India, as it transitions to clean energy, can work with Australia because we have complementary economies,” he added.
The Australian prime minister said cooperation in the critical minerals industry will be vital.
Albanese also said that he was looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Modi along with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and US President Joe Biden for the Quad summit in Australia this year.
“And we were able to discuss some of the elements of Prime Minister Modi’s visit. I look forward, as well, to being here in September for the G20 meeting. That will be of great significance,” he said.
“India is a world power. It’s a major economy, but it also is a developing economy. So it can play a central role in providing that bridge between north and south that is so important going forward,” Albanese said.
“And the fact that India will no doubt host a very successful G20 will be a significant event. And then Prime Minister Modi has also invited me back for another bilateral at the end of the year, but we’ll have further discussions and arrangements about that,” he added.
When pointed out about US President Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaking to various world leaders across Europe about the AUKUS arrangement and asked whether he briefed Modi about it, Albanese replied in affirmative.
“We are taking appropriate action. I confirm that I briefed Prime Minister Modi, one on one. I treated him with the respect that he deserves, and briefings are taking place, as appropriate, with other countries,” he said.
Under the AUKUS pact, the US and the UK will assist Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines.
Albanese left Delhi for the US, where he will hold talks with US President Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak about the AUKUS defence partnership.