Raksha Mantri Ji, Minister Payne and Minister Dutton
Friends of the Media
1. We have just concluded the first India Australia 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. This format is reflective of our growing engagement under the umbrella of our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Before our meeting today, I met Minister Payne in the morning to discuss a range of bilateral, regional and international issues.
2. I thank both the Australian Ministers and the Australian delegation for their effort to come here in person to make this Dialogue happen.
3. As democratic polities, market economies and pluralistic societies, we have a natural bonding that has assumed contemporary relevance in a changing world. It was during the First India-Australia Virtual Leaders’ Summit held on 4th June, 2020 that our Prime Ministers agreed to elevate our relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. This 2+2 format is a direct outcome of that Leaders’ Summit and is pursuant to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
4. India-Australia relations have experienced unprecedented momentum in the last seven years. There have been frequent engagements despite the pandemic in a range of areas. New mechanisms have come up reflecting new energies. Our people to people contact has added a unique dimension to this relationship through the flow of talents, ideas, education and tourism.
5. Today, as the four Ministers came together for the first time, we discussed our experiences and further collaboration in responding to the COVID 19 challenges. Decentralized globalization, strategic autonomy, sharper sense of national security are some of the relevant outcomes. We also underlined our commitments to creating secure and resilient global supply chains. We welcomed the renewed vigour with which both sides are now engaging on trade issues to fully expedite the complementarities between us.
6. As has been stated by Raksha Mantri Ji, we have had some significant progress in our defence cooperation framework and we have also set out an ambitious framework to further enhance our cooperation.
7. The 2+2 Dialogue reflects the comfort that we have attained in our bilateral relationship, especially in strategic and security spheres, based on the growing convergence with Australia on security issues and our shared commitment for a free, open, prosperous and rules-based Indo-Pacific region.
8. The peaceful development of the Indo-Pacific region has been a focus of our relationship. Our two countries believe that it should be shaped in a participative and collaborative manner. We reiterated our commitment to continue to work together for peace, stability and prosperity of all countries in the region. This would include a rules-based international order, freedom of navigation in international waters, promoting connectivity as well as respecting territorial integrity and sovereignty of all States.
9. During the 2+2 Dialogue, we also exchanged views on developments in our neighboring regions. Afghanistan was understandably, a major subject of discussion. We agreed that the international community must united in its approach, guided by UNSC Resolution 2593.
10. As members of the Quad, we recognized the importance of plurilateralism in a multipolar and rebalanced world. We appreciate the value of our trilaterals with Japan, France and Indonesia and will hold these dialogues soon.
11. The importance of on-going cooperation in multilateral arena for preserving the rules-based international order was also emphasised. Our cooperation in the Commonwealth is important to that organization’s performance.
12. I also specifically took up with Minister Payne the problems faced by Indian students in Australia and those wishing to go to Australia as well as the Indian origin community that is resident there. I urged that the difficulties faced by the students due to travel restrictions be sympathetically addressed as soon as possible.
13. Today is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. It is a reminder- if one is still needed- of the importance of combating terrorism without compromise. Close as we are to its epicenter, let us appreciate the value of international cooperation.
14. In conclusion, I once again thank Minister Payne and Minister Dutton for their presence here in India today and for a very productive 2+2 Dialogue.
September 11, 2021