India and Australia are expected to focus on ramping up their overall defence ties and boost strategic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific at the second edition of the ‘2+2’ ministerial dialogue here on November 20. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and their Australian counterparts Richard Marles and Penny Wong will hold the talks to further advance cooperation under the India-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Announcing India’s hosting of the dialogue, it said on Saturday that the ministers are expected to discuss a wide range of strategic, defence and security issues.
The situation in West Asia in view of the Hamas-Israel conflict, China’s increasing military muscle flexing in the Indo-Pacific and issues relating to regional security are expected to figure in the talks, people familiar with the preparation for the dialogue said.
The MEA said the discussions would cover bilateral, regional and global matters of mutual interest to further advance cooperation under the India-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership.
“Both sides will also exchange views on shared priorities for strengthening multilateral and multilateral cooperation,” it said.
Bilateral meetings scheduled
Singh and Jaishankar will also hold separate bilateral talks with their Australian counterparts.
“The external affairs minister and foreign minister Wong will hold the 14th foreign ministerial framework dialogue on November 21 to take stock of cooperation under the comprehensive strategic partnership and exchange views on regional and global issues of mutual interest,” the MEA said in a statement.
Australian Dy PM to attend Cricket World Cup
Earlier, the defence ministry said Marles will pay a two-day visit to India from November 19-20. It said he will also attend the Cricket World Cup final between India and Australia on Sunday.
“Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles will visit India from November 19 to 20 to co-chair the second India-Australia 2+2 ministerial dialogue with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh,” it said in a statement.
It said India and Australia are pursuing a comprehensive strategic partnership and the visit of Minister Marles is expected to give further impetus to the bilateral defence cooperation.
“The two countries are expected to discuss wide-ranging issues of mutual interest during the 2+2 dialogue and the bilateral defence ministers’ meeting,” it said.
The inaugural ‘2+2’ ministerial dialogue between India and Australia had taken place in September 2021. India has such a framework for talks with very few countries including the US and Japan.
The bilateral defence and strategic ties between India and Australia are on an upward trajectory in the last few years. In June 2020, India and Australia elevated their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership and signed a landmark deal for reciprocal access to military bases for logistics support.
The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) allows the militaries of the two countries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, besides facilitating the scaling up of overall defence cooperation.
(With inputs from agency)