Payne also described the Quad comprising India, Australia, the US and Japan as a thoroughly contemporary grouping, a diplomatic network of countries that engages flexibly, practically with clear purpose of enhancing stability and prosperity by meeting challenges quickly and nimbly.
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NEW DELHI: Australia’s foreign minister Marise Payne on Friday said the first-ever meeting of foreign and defence ministers of India and Australia over the weekend is “very significant" as she described the two nations as the northern and eastern anchors of the Indian Ocean, home to major global maritime thoroughfares.
Delivering the third Indo-Pacific Oration, organized by New Delhi-based think tank Observer Research Foundation, she described the Quad comprising India, Australia, the US and Japan as “a thoroughly contemporary grouping, a diplomatic network of countries that engages flexibly, practically with clear purpose of enhancing stability and prosperity by meeting challenges quickly and nimbly."
Payne arrived in New Delhi on Friday accompanied by Australia’s defence minister Peter Dutton. The ministers are to hold talks on Saturday with foreign minister S. Jaishankar and defence minister Rajnath Singh.
This is the third country that India is holding the so-called 2+2 talks with, the others being US and Japan. The talks with Australia are an outcome of an agreement reached when Indian and Australian prime ministers met in June 2020 in a virtual summit. Earlier this year, India and Russia agreed to have a similar 2+2 dialogue.
“The inaugural 2+2 ministerial dialogue is being held pursuant to the elevation of India-Australia bilateral relations to comprehensive strategic partnership during the India-Australia leaders’ virtual summit on 4 June 2020," India’s foreign ministry said in a statement earlier this week. “The agenda for the dialogue will cover a range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest," it said.
According to people familiar with the developments, the focus of the talks at the India-Australia 2+2 dialogue is expected to be on boosting cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in the face of China’s growing military assertiveness in the region.
In her remarks, Payne said, “Australia stands with India and a vast majority (of countries) in the region in opposing the destabilising escalatory action. We agree that rules, norms… must be at the centre of the region’s strategic culture, not a ‘might is right’ mentality or coercive tactics." The comments could be seen as referencing Chinese actions in the region—South China Sea, the Straits of Taiwan or in the East China Sea.