Canberra/Melbourne, Nov 18:
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott have built a camaraderie over the past few months, especially the last five days.
During his address to the Australian parliament, Modi also took a playful dig at Abbott, telling lawmakers that making them listen to him – the third head of government in three days to address parliament – was Abbott’s way of “shirt-fronting” them.
“I’m the third head of the government you are listening to this week, I do not know how you are doing this! May be, this is Prime Minister Abbott’s way of shirt-fronting you,” Modi said, to laughter from the lawmakers.
He was referring to Abbott’s threat to “shirt-front” Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 over the MH17 crash during their face-to-face encounter.
However, when both Abbott and Putin were finally face to face, they indulged in some koala cuddle.
“Shirt-fronting” is a term used in Australian rules football, referring to an aggressive, front-on physical challenge.
Modi and Abbott also took an autographed selfie together, in a mark of their growing friendship, and exchanged warm hugs.
“The relationship between the two of us has become very strong, and there is no formality between the two of us,” Modi said, at a reception hosted by Abbott in the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
He and Abbott shook hands smiling widely and the Australian prime minister gave him a warm hug.
The two prime ministers then posed for an autographed selfie, smiling and chatting.
The selfie was posted on the Modi’s twitter handle, with the words “With my friend @TonyAbbottMHR at the MCG”.
He also tweeted: “PM @TonyAbbottMHR came in September. He was the first guest since we formed the Government.”
“People asked me isn’t it too soon to visit Australia after @TonyAbbottMHR just visited. I said I can’t say no to my friend Tony,” went the tweet.
Their camaraderie was reflected during the reception at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) where Abbott said Modi is like a “brother”.
“Narendra and I,” Abbott said on a couple of occasions, while Modi called him “Tony”.
Modi is the first Indian prime minister to visit Australia in 28 years after Rajiv Gandhi in 1986.
The two leaders also shared a hug when Abbott welcomed him to the G20 in Brisbane.
Modi visited four cities – Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne – during his five-day visit to Australia.
Abbott was in India in September, the first head of government to pay a bilateral visit to the Modi government which took over in May.