India, Australia hold inaugural ‘2+2’ talks to strengthen defence, strategic cooperation

NEW DELHI: India and Australia on Saturday held the inaugural foreign and defence ministerial dialogue to boost overall strategic ties in the backdrop of an unsettling phase of geopolitical flux in the region.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajath Singh held the ‘two-plus-two’ talks here with their Australian counterparts Marise Payne and Peter Dutton.
Jaishankar described the in-person talks as “productive”.
“A productive 2+2 meeting today with Australia,” he tweeted.
The talks took place at a time the global focus is on the situation in Afghanistan after its takeover by the Taliban last month, and it is understood that the issue figured in these deliberations.
The two sides held extensive talks on all key issues of strategic interests including the situation in the Indo-Pacific in the face of China’s growing muscle-flexing in the region, people familiar with the development said.
The overall focus was to ramp up the strategic ties, they said.
The outcome of the talks will be shared by the four ministers at a joint press conference later.
Delighted to welcome my good friend FM @MarisePayne of Australia.
While Singh held wide-ranging discussions with Australian defence minister Dutton on Friday, Jaishankar met foreign minister Payne in the morning ahead of the ‘two-plus-two’ dialogue.
In their talks, the two defence ministers discussed the fragile security situation in Afghanistan and their “common concerns” relating possible spread of terrorism from the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
The foreign and defence ministerial talks took place amid renewed efforts by the Quad member countries to expand cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

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