Maritime cooperation, the Indo-Pacific and Afghanistan on the agenda of the Indo-Aus 2 + 2 Ministerial Dialogue –

In June last year, during the virtual summit-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, bilateral relations were elevated to a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.” (File image)

The first India-Australia 2 + 2 Ministerial Dialogue is scheduled for Saturday (September 11, 2021) in New Delhi.

From the Australian side, Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defense Minister Peter Dutton will hold talks with Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar. And the focus will be on maritime security and the Indo-Pacific, as well as problems related to the ongoing violence in Afghanistan.

According to sources, the decision to have the 2 + 2 Ministerial Dialogue is an indication of the close ties between India and Australia, which is also a member of QUAD and has recently participated in Ex Malabar off the coast of Guam. And recently the navies of the two countries had participated in military exercises such as AUSINDEX.

In addition to the Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement signed in 2014, there is a Technical Agreement on the Information Exchange of White Shipments that was signed in 2015 and last year the two signed an agreement related to mutual logistical support (2020),

In June last year, during the virtual summit-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, bilateral relations were elevated to a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.”

Bilateral relations between India and Australia

The two countries are already engaging in various dialogue formats and have been cooperating in various sectors, including maritime security, mutual logistical support, and cooperation in cyber-enabled critical technology, critical and strategic materials, and defense science exchanges. The two parties also collaborate closely on water resources management, vocational training and governance.

Australia is a member of the Small Allied Group of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and has supported the admission of India to the “small group”. Now it has become a key partner in the Indo-Pacific and the QUAD initiative. It is also part of trilateral initiatives such as India-Australia-France and India-Australia-Indonesia, as well as forums led by ASEAN.

Bilateral trade between the two countries is around 20,000 million dollars annually and the negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) are on the right track and an Early Harvest Agreement as an intermediate objective.

There is an Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) which is important as it enables collaboration between scientists from both countries to work together on cutting edge technologies. India-Australia Science and Technology Fund; Great Challenge Fund; The India-Australia Biotechnology Fund and Scholarship Programs are part of this fund.

That country has large deposits of various types of critical minerals that India requires and is one of the main educational destinations for Indian students.

In the context of COVID, the two are looking at the need for resilient supply chains. According to sources, the trade ministers of India, Japan and Australia have launched the Supply Chain Resilience Initiative (SCRI), which will help diversify and secure supply chains.

2 + 2 Ministerial Dialogue with other countries
India has a 2 + 2 ministerial dialogue with only two countries: the United States and Japan, and soon the dialogue with Russia will take place in New Delhi later this year.

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