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India, Australia vow to deepen economic, security ties at foreign ministers’ talks

Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said he highlighted the importance of moving forward on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement negotiations during talks with his Australian counterpart.

(L-R) Australian foreign minister Penny Wong, Australian deputy prime minister and defence minister Richard Marles pose for a picture with Indian defence Minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar after the 2+2 ministerial meeting, in New Delhi, India, on Monday, November 20, 2021. (ANI Photo)

By: Shubham Ghosh

INDIA and Australia on Tuesday (21) vowed to deepen their economic and security partnership and stressed their shared commitment to a “free, open, inclusive and rules-based” Indo-Pacific, a region which has been witnessing China’s growing assertiveness.

Addressing a press conference after participating in the India-Australia Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue with his Australian counterpart Penny Wong, Indian external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said India is preparing for a meeting of the Quad grouping – comprising Australia, India, Japan and the US – sometime next year.

He said they discussed and highlighted the importance of moving forward on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) negotiations.

“We spoke of the way forward for greater mobility of our students and professionals,” Jaishankar said.

He added the two leaders also discussed the situation in West Asia in detail. Asked about the Israel-Hamas conflict at the presser, Jaishankar talked about India’s position and said there are different aspects of the “very complex and challenging situation”.

“One, of course, is terrorism, what happened on October 7. We think nationally and as international community that we should never compromise on terrorism, we should be very clear about it. Therefore there is that basket and to it is also the hostages issue,” Jaishankar said.

“There is a second set of issues –the humanitarian crisis in Gaza today. The need for humanitarian assistance which is urgent and the observance of international humanitarian law there. The third set of issues relates to the rights and future of Palestinians. That too has to have a solution. That solution in our view and in the view of many countries of the world can only come in the two-state solution,” he said.

“We have to find a way by which all these aspects are addressed,” Jaishnkar added.

He asserted that there was “real momentum” in the India-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership.

“Today, amongst other things, we also discussed, highlighted the importance of moving on the ‘Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement’ (CECA) negotiations. We spoke of the way forward for greater mobility of our students and professionals,” he said. “Both of us are committed to build more trusted, reliable and resilient supply chains in the Indo-Pacific for broader and inclusive growth,” the Indian diplomat said.

As part of the 2+2 dialogue and as part of the talks, an extensive discussion on security issues was held, he said.

“We shared growing convergences with Australia. At the heart of it is really a shared commitment to a free, open, inclusive, prosperous and rules-based Indo-Pacific region based on United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Jaishankar said. The two leaders also discussed terrorism, radicalism and extremism, he added.

“As liberal democracies, as QUAD partners, we would continue to work towards rules-based international order. We will support freedom of navigation in international waters, promote connectivity, growth and security for all while respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states,” Jaishankar said.

India and Australia on Monday (20) decided to further strengthen their strategic partnership to deal with “exceptional challenges” in the Indo-Pacific region and across the globe, with a special focus on defence cooperation. At the second India and Australia 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, the two nations also underscored the importance of further enhancing cooperation in information exchange and maritime domain awareness.

Indian defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Jaishankar met Australian deputy prime minister and defence minister Richard Marles and foreign minister Penny Wong here as part of the 2+2 ministerial dialogue.

(With PTI inputs)

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