Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 11
The new Taliban regime’s lack of inclusiveness and further ballast in defence ties were the highlights of the first inaugural India-Australia 2+2 Dialogue held here on Saturday.
Canberra formally invited India for the US-Australia Talisman Sabre exercise in 2023, boost diplomatic defence relationship and “continue to take part” in the Malabar naval exercises. During his meeting with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, his Australian counterpart Peter Dutton had said, “advancing our defence cooperation has been a long standing bedrock” in bilateral ties.
“India joining Talisman Sabre would be extremely significant. It will take some years until it is able to take part in the sharper aspects of the drills, but moving towards Quad amphibious exercise is sensible,” said strategic analyst Ashley Townshend.
Both Foreign Ministers S Jaishankar and Marise Payne agreed on the lack of inclusiveness in Afghanistan’s new “dispensation” as also the status of women there. With Singh and Dutton, they discussed the need to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a “breeding ground for terror groups”.
They also discussed the Asia Pacific and the situation in the South China Sea which was the focus of another meeting between senior Chinese and Vietnamese leaders.
Simultaneously, Vietnam, an Indian ally which has clashed with China in the South China Sea, signed a deal with Japan for defence equipment and technology.
Jaishankar said using a term like NATO for Quad is like looking back into the Cold War. “Quad looks in the future. It reflects globalisation, compulsions of countries to work together - vaccines, supply chains, connectivity,” he said at a news conference.
In their final engagement in India, the visiting Australian Ministers called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They had arrived from Indonesia after holding another two plus two.
India and Australia are also attempting to improve the economic leg of the relationship.
Former Australian PM Tony Abbott, in a new trade role, had visited the country in early August to explore the prospects of a free trade agreement after successfully mediating a similar one with the UK.
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