Indo-Pacific and rules based order, peace in Afghanistan, highlight of 2+2 Indo-Aus Ministerial Dialogue

Both India and Australia are keen to have free flow of trade, rules-based order and economic growth in the region, peace and development.

Indo-Aus 2+2 meet
Later in the evening the visiting minister called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi

In the first ever 2+2 Ministerial level talks between India and Australia focused on QUAD playing a very important role in keeping the Indo-Pacific Region safe.

Both India and Australia are keen to have free flow of trade, rules-based order and economic growth in the region, peace and development. The first ever dialogue is expected to give a boost to the overall strategic ties.

Addressing a joint press meet on Saturday in New Delhi, defence minister Rajnath Singh and the visiting Foreign Minister Marise Payne, said, “Both countries share a positive vision for the Indo-Pacific with a collective resolve for multilateral cooperation and maritime security.”

On Saturday, defence minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met their Australian counterparts Marise Payne and Defence Minister Peter Dutton, in New Delhi. The current situation in Afghanistan, Indo-Pacific Region and the fight against COVID-19 were some of the important issues discussed by the two countries.

In her opening statement, Ms Payne said, “Last month we saw the fall of Afghanistan which remains our central concern. Australia and India both share a positive vision of free, open and secure Indo-Pacific. ”

Later in the evening the visiting minister called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In his opening statement Singh too highlighted maritime security in the Indo-Pacific, exchange of views on Afghanistan and other issues of mutual interest.

“We have a natural bonding that has assumed contemporary relevance in a changing world,” external affairs minister S Jaishankar.

The 2+2 Ministerial dialogue is an outcome of the first India-Australia Virtual Leaders summit in June, 2020, in which the leaders had agreed to elevate the relations to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

Visiting Australian Defence minister Dutton highlighted the “barbaric acts of terrorism’’ and India’s rise as Indo-Pacific power. “For trade and economic well being, Australia and India both depend upon free and open access to sea lines within the Indo-Pacific.”

NATO – a Cold war Term
In response to a media query about China calling the Quad an ‘Asian NATO’, external affairs minister Jaishankar stressed that QUAD is a ‘forward-looking’ step and it reflects “globalisation and compulsion of countries to work together”.

Adding, “It is a platform where four countries have come to cooperate for world’s and their benefit. And looking back, the term like NATO is a Cold war term and the QUAD looks at the future.”  And, “It reflects globalisation and compulsion of countries to work together and focus on various issues like supply chains, vaccines. There is no relation with NATO or any other organization.”

He also stated that during discussions with Australia, views were exchanged on Afghanistan and agreed that the international community must be united in the approach which should be guided by the UNSC Resolution 2593.

Artificial intelligence and unmanned vehicles key focus areas
According to the defence minister Rajnath Singh, the two sides are also going to explore new avenues in the field of Artificial Intelligence and Unmanned Vehicles. There has been interoperability in all the defence engagements between the two militaries.

Key Takeaways
The emphasis was on ensuring adherence to international rules, free flow of trade, and norms and sustainable economic growth in the entire region.

At a bilateral level, expansion of military engagements across the services, greater defence information sharing and to also work closely on mutual logistic support.

 India has invited Australia to participate in co-development and co-production of defence equipment.

Australia has invited India for its Exercise Talisman Saber & to increase its defence diplomatic presence in Delhi.

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