India, Australia set to hold ‘2+2’ ministerial dialogue next week

New Delhi, November 17

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Defence Minister Richard Marles are set to visit India to take part in the two-plus-two ministerial dialogue on Monday that is likely to focus on further shoring up strategic ties between the two countries, people familiar with the matter said.

It is learnt that Marles, who is also Australia’s deputy prime minister, and Wong may watch the Cricket World Cup final between India and Australia in Ahmedabad on Sunday.

There is no official announcement on the ‘2+2’ dialogue or the planned visit to India by Wong and Marles.

The people cited above said the two sides are expected to focus extensively on further ramping up the overall defence and security ties and boost strategic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region in the “2+2” ministerial dialogue.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will lead the Indian delegation at the talks.

Both Australia and India are part of the Quad or Quadrilateral coalition that is focused on working towards ensuring a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. The other two members of the Quad are the US and Japan.

The inaugural “2+2’ ministerial dialogue between India and Australia had taken place in September 2021.

India has such a framework for talks with a very few countries including the US and Japan.

The latest edition of India-US foreign and defence ministerial dialogue took place in New Delhi on November 10.

The bilateral defence and strategic ties between India and Australia are on an upward trajectory in the last few years.

In June 2020, India and Australia elevated their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership and signed a landmark deal for reciprocal access to military bases for logistics support.

The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) allows the militaries of the two countries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, besides facilitating scaling up of overall defence cooperation.

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