Asian security ties in Australia's sights

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Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles will meet his Indian counterpart to discuss strengthening defence and security cooperation.

Mr Marles arrived in India on Monday and will depart on Thursday for a series of high-level meetings at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda.

Mr Marles says his first bilateral discussions with Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh will be instrumental in advancing the countries' ties.

"I look forward to working with him to enhance the defence pillar of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership," Mr Marles said.

"The rules-based international order that has brought peace and prosperity to the Indo-Pacific for decades is experiencing pressure, as we face shifts in the geostrategic order.

"Australia stands ready to work closer with India in support of an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific".

But the Quad partner has remained reluctant to directly condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, relying on the Kremlin for a significant amount of its arms imports as it moves to deter Chinese aggression on its border.

The Quad, which also includes Australia, the United States and Japan, is working to increase defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in the face of a more aggressive China.

Mr Marles will also meet with external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar as well as national security and defence policymakers and personnel.

On a separate trip, Australia's home affairs minister is meeting Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and foreign minister Gamini Peiris.

Clare O'Neil will discuss cooperative measures to tackle transnational crime including people smuggling, as boats leaving Sri Lanka's economic hardships trickle towards Australia.

Ms O'Neil's trip coincided with Australia announcing $50 million worth of developmental assistance for food and health care in Sri Lanka.

Australia will immediately put $22 million into the World Food Programme to help three million people in Sri Lanka with emergency food assistance and will provide an extra $23 million to the country in the next financial year to help support health services.

It comes on top of $5 million already donated to the United Nations agencies for Sri Lanka.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters he was aware of misleading tactics being used by people smugglers in Sri Lanka.

"We will be strong on borders, without being weak on humanity," he told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.

"We understand that there are issues in Sri Lanka and that the wrong messages are being given by people smugglers. Our message will be very clear."

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