India and Australia resolved to further consolidate their defence ties and work towards a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific to deter China’s aggressive behaviour, while also expressing concern at the threat of trans-border terrorism emanating from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Ahead of the first-ever “2+2” ministerial dialogue, defence minister Rajnath Singh and his Australian counterpart Peter Dutton said the bilateral defence and security partnership will be taken to “greater heights” in the delegation level talks.
The two discussed the deteriorating human rights situation in Afghanistan. “Australia also shared India’s concern that trans-border terrorism emanating from Afghanistan would negatively impact the other countries in the region,” said a source.
The two sides stressed that the international community must do everything to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2593 that demands that Afghanistan’s territory should not be used for terrorism and the Taliban should provide an inclusive government while respecting human rights.
“Both Australia and India have tremendous stakes in peace, development and free flow of trade, a rules-based order and economic growth in the region… India is committed to building a robust partnership with Australia for security and growth of the entire region,” Singh said, while inviting Australian industry to take advantage of India’s liberalised FDI policies in the defence production sector.
Dutton said India’s leadership was central to Australia’s Indo-Pacific strategy, and it was in the “sovereign interest” of the two countries to align their strategies, capabilities and resources. Australia agreed to “enhance its posture” in the Indian Ocean Region by ramping up cooperation between the two air forces, maritime engagements and exercises.