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Modi speaks with Aus PM; initiatives for equitable access to vaccines, medicines discussed

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on Friday as the two leaders agreed on the importance of ensuring equitable access to vaccines and medicines, and discussed possible initiatives for it.

Modi and Morrison also reiterated the importance of working together for a rules-based international order and a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.

During his telephonic conversation with Morrison, the prime minister conveyed his appreciation for the prompt and generous support extended by the government and the people of Australia for India’s fight against the second wave of COVID-19, according to a Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) statement.

The two leaders agreed on the need to ensure an affordable and equitable access to vaccines and medicines for containing COVID-19 globally, it said.

“Spoke with my friend @ScottMorrisonMP to thank him for Australia’s solidarity and support for India’s fight against the pandemic,” Modi tweeted after speaking with the Australian prime minister.

“We agreed on the importance of ensuring affordable and equitable access to vaccines and medicines, and discussed possible initiatives in this regard,” he said.

During the call, the prime minister sought Australia’s support for the initiative taken at the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa to seek a temporary waiver under TRIPS in this context, according to the PMO.

In October 2020, India and South Africa submitted a proposal suggesting a waiver for all WTO members on the implementation of certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement in relation to the prevention, containment or treatment of COVID-19.

The agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights or TRIPS came into effect in January 1995. It is a multilateral agreement on intellectual property (IP) rights such as copyright, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information or trade secrets.

In their telephonic conversation, Modi and Morrison also took note of the progress made in the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership since the virtual summit held on June 4, 2020 and discussed ways to further strengthen cooperation and foster people-to-people ties.

“The leaders also discussed regional issues and reiterated the importance of working together for a rules-based international order and a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region,” the statement said.

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