India, Aus hold 2 2 talks, discuss strategic, defence ties

India, Aus hold 2 2 talks, discuss strategic, defence ties

India and Australia on Tuesday called for a free and open Indo-Pacific – exactly a month after they launched a quad with Japan and the US to contain China.

India and Australia launched a "2+2 dialogue" involving chief diplomats and top bureaucrats in the defence ministries of the respective governments.

The move is aimed at building on the strategic convergence between the two nations in Indo-Pacific area.

Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra led the delegation of India in the inaugural of the "2+2 dialogue" with Australia, which was represented by Frances Adamson and Greg Moriarty, secretaries of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Department of Defence of Australia government, respectively.

"Both sides agreed that a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region serves the long-term interests of all countries in the region and of the world at large," the Ministry of External Affairs stated in a press release issued after the dialogue.

Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said that all aspects of bilateral relations with a focus on strategic and defence relations between the two countries had been reviewed during the meeting.

India and Australia launched the 2+2 dialogue just four weeks after they joined Japan and the US to launch a four-nation consultation on Indo-Pacific – a move, which is primarily aimed at bringing the major democratic nations in the region together to counter the hegemonic agenda of communist China.

India and Australia had decided to launch the 2+2 dialogue in April 2017, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had hosted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in New Delhi.

Since 2015, Japan's maritime self defence force has been participating in the Malabar Naval Exercise, which was earlier a bilateral war drill by the Indian and American navies.

The last Malabar Exercise by the navies of India, US and Japan was held in the Bay of Bengal in July this year. Australia is also keen to participate in the naval war drill.

Earlier this year, the navies of US, Japan and Australia   held a trilateral submarine drill off the southern coast of Japan.

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