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Posted at: Dec 2, 2017, 3:49 PM; last updated: Dec 2, 2017, 10:26 PM (IST)

India-Australia maiden "2+2" talks on December 12

India-Australia maiden
Harinder Sidhu, Australian High Commissioner to India

Smita Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 2

In increasing regional partnership. India and Australia will engage in the inaugural “2+2 dialogue format” with Defence and Foreign Secretaries from both the countries meeting on December 12.

The talks format proposed in the joint statement in 2014 during former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot’s vgisit will happen for the first time in Delhi.

Australian High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu speaking exclusively to The Tribune, said: “This will be a significant meeting. We had navy-to-navy talks… just yesterday had bilateral maritime security dialogue. So this will build on the extremely good bilateral strategic relations we have with India in every facet of military operations, defence and civilian cooperation and our foreign policy co-ordination.”

The bilateral talks will be followed by the fourth India-Australia-Japan Trilateral. Foreign Secretaries of the three countries will hold deliberations on 13th December with the Indo-Pacific situation, terrorism and the Korean Crisis top of the agenda. Interestingly the Russia-India-China trilateral postponed by Beijing in April this year is to be held on 11th December in Delhi.

“Our three countries work together extremely well. We share our perspectives on current issues, so North Korea will definitely be on the agenda,” said the Australian High Commissioner. 

Australian Foreign Secretary Frances Adamsons is also expected to outline the highlights of her country’s Foreign Policy White Paper to her counterparts. The White Paper, a first one in fourteen years, looks at uncertainties and challenges in the world and Indo-Pacific region, the rise of China and increased prominence of India among others while laying out strategies and polices for Australia.

“Largely because India and Japan looms all large in the White Paper as our strategic partners and to consider how we might work together to promote the kind of values and ideas we have in the White Paper,” Sidhu added.

With recent revival of the Quadrilateral dialogue including US at the level of joint secretaries in Manila along the ASEAN summit sidelines, questions remain if Canberra will now get the go ahead to join the Malabar exercise. India holds the annual naval exercise with US and Japan in the Bay of Bengal. Asked if the issue will figure in the Trilateral, the Australian envoy called it a separate issue even though Canberra continues to express interest in it.

”When the time is right we are hopeful that we will be welcomed into the Malabar group but that is for the countries in the Malabar exercise to decide. Not for Australia to decide,” she added.

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