India and Australia are expected to focus extensively on further ramping up the overall defence and security ties and boost strategic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific at their inaugural two-plus-two ministerial dialogue here on September 11, people familiar with the development said on Tuesday.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh are scheduled to hold the dialogue with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Peter Dutton, they said.
As the two senior Australian ministers are visiting in the backdrop of the Taliban’s capture of power in Afghanistan, the issue is likely to figure in separate meetings Jaishankar and Singh will have with their counterparts.
The focus of the talks at the two-plus-two dialogue is expected to be on boosting overall cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in the face of China’s growing military assertiveness in the region, the people cited above said.
Both Australia and India are part of Quad or Quadrilateral coalition that resolved to work towards ensuring a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. The other two members of the Quad are the US and Japan.
The people cited above said expanding bilateral cooperation in areas of maritime security is expected to be another area of focus at the two-plus-two dialogue.
The two-plus-two dialogue between the foreign and defence ministers was instituted as part of an overall goal to expand strategic cooperation between the two countries.
India has such a framework for talks with a very few countries including the US and Japan.
The defence and military cooperation between India and Australia is on an upswing in the last few years.
In June last, 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 during an online summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.
The Australian Navy was part of the recent Malabar naval exercise that also featured navies of India, the US and Japan.
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