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The last time an Indian prime minister visited Australia was 28 years ago. Fiji has an even remoter date: 33 years. In an earlier age, India could ignore these countries. Not any more.

In the past decade, India’s horizons have shrunk greatly even as its engagement with the world receded. It needs to look east and expand its naval presence.

From that perspective, Australia is not only a country endowed with mineral riches that India seeks, but also an important peg of India’s Look East policy. Perhaps it is time that India again explored strengthening of military and strategic linkages with Canberra which received a setback during the Kevin Rudd interlude.

These ties should be built in cooperation with another Asian power, Japan, which has anxieties of the kind that India has. If the US wants to join, it should be welcomed, but its presence should not be the glue in exploring a strategic arrangement.

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