NEW DELHI: India and Australia strengthened defence ties Thursday, including sealing a pact to boost military logistics support and maritime cooperation, as both nations experience heightened tensions with regional superpower China.

In a virtual summit held online as the coronavirus pandemic restricts international travel, the two leaders signed a Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement as they hailed an upgrade of their strategic partnership.

“India is committed to further intensifying comprehensive relations with Australia," India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in opening remarks.

“This is important not only for our two nations, but is also needed for the Indo-Pacific region as well as for the world."

His Australian counterpart Scott Morrison added that “in a time like this, we want to deal very much with friends and trusted partners".

The foreign and defence ministers will now meet at least biannually to discuss strategic issues, the two nations said in a joint statement.

Other agreements on education, mining, and defence science and technology were also inked during the summit, which took place after two earlier scheduled visits by Morrison to India were postponed because of the Australian bushfires and the pandemic.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2020