INDIA and Australia are expected to focus on ramping up their overall defence ties and boost strategic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific at the second edition of the ‘2+2’ Ministerial dialogue here on November 20. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and their Australian counterparts Richard Marles and Penny Wong will hold the talks to further advance cooperation under the India-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Announcing India’s hosting of the dialogue, it said on Saturday that the Ministers are expected to discuss a wide range of strategic, defence and security issues. The situation in West Asia in view of the Hamas-Israel conflict, China’s increasing military muscle flexing in the Indo-Pacific and issues relating to regional security are expected to figure in the talks, people familiar with the preparation for the dialogue said.
The MEA said the discussions would cover bilateral, regional and global matters of mutual interest to further advance cooperation under the India-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership. “Both sides will also exchange views on shared priorities for strengthening minilateral and multilateral cooperation,” it said. Singh and Jaishankar will also hold separate bilateral talks with their Australian counterparts. “The External Affairs Minister and Foreign Minister Wong will hold the 14th foreign ministerial framework dialogue on November 21 to take stock of cooperation under the comprehensive strategic partnership and exchange views on regional and global issues of mutual interest,” the MEA said in a statement.