Updated: September 14, 2021 5:52:15 am
In a high-level foreign and defence ministerial dialogue, India and Australia on Saturday set out an ambitious framework for defence with Afghanistan as a major subject of discussion.
During the inaugural ‘two-plus-two’ talks between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and their Australian counterparts Marise Payne and Peter Dutton respectively, the two countries also discussed the significant challenges facing the Indo-Pacific and deliberated on collaboration in dealing with Covid-19 pandemic in future.
Delighted to welcome my good friend FM @MarisePayne of Australia.
We now start our discussions. pic.twitter.com/jhI6mwhybM
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) September 11, 2021
Acknowledging that terrorism is a major threat to both sides, Dutton said: “Australia-India defence relationship is at a historic high.”
With the talks being held on a day which marks two decades from the 9/11 terror attacks, Jaishankar added, “Today is the 20th anniversary of 9/11, it is a reminder of importance of combating terrorism without compromise. Close as we are to its epicentre, let us appreciate the value of international cooperation to that end.”
After the meeting, that took amid renewed efforts by the Quad member countries to expand cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, Payne said, “Australia and India share a positive vision of a free, open, secure, inclusive Indo-Pacific… We have shared views on challenges of South China Sea and East China Sea.”
Besides India and Australia, the Quad comprises the US and Japan.
On Friday, Singh held wide-ranging discussions with Australian defence minister Dutton, while Jaishankar met foreign minister Payne ahead of the ‘two-plus-two’ dialogue.
In their talks, the two defence ministers discussed the fragile security situation in the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and their “common concerns” relating to the possible spread of terrorism from there.
The dialogue between the ministers was instituted as part of an overall goal to expand strategic cooperation between the two countries. India has such a framework for talks with a very few countries including the US and Japan.
— With inputs from PTI
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