India, Australia hold first 2+2 dialogue

New Delhi,  In a bid to boost their bilateral strategic partnership keeping the Indo-Pacific region in mind and to increase defence cooperation, India and Australia held their inaugural 2+2 Foreign Secretaries and Defence Secretaries Dialogue here on Tuesday.

While Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra participated from the Indian side, Australia was represented by Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Frances Adamson and Secretary of Department of Defence Greg Moriarty.

According to a statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry, all aspects of bilateral relations with a focus on strategic and defence relations between the two countries were reviewed.

“India and Australia share warm bilateral relations based on shared democratic values and pluralism. There is a growing convergence of strategic perspectives between the two countries,” the statement said.

“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.”

With the changing global scenario, Australia has come to look at India as a potential partner in promoting regional security and stability and this led the bilateral relationship to be elevated to a Strategic Partnership, including adoption of a Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation in 2009.

During the visit of then Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot to India in 2014, a civil nuclear cooperation agreement was signed by the two countries.

During that visit, the two sides also agreed to extend defence cooperation to cover research, development and industry engagement.

India’s trade in goods and services with Australia was approximately $15.6 billion in 2016.

The two countries are also currently discussing a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which will provide greater market access to exporters of goods and services.

According Tuesday’s External Affairs Ministry statement, Australian Foreign Secretary Adamson is also scheduled to meet meeting Secretary (East) Preeti Saran and Secretary (Economic Relations) Vijay Gokhale in the ministry during the course of the visit.

Defence Secretary Moriarty also met Chief of Staff Committee and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba and visited Rajputana Rifles Regimental Centre in New Delhi.

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