New Delhi: Making it amply clear that the India-Australia relationship is heading towards new heights, New Delhi will be hosting the inaugural 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue on September 11, Saturday, in New Delhi.
Ms Marise Payne, Foreign Minister and Peter Dutton, Defence Minister of Australia, will be on a three-day visit starting September 10, Friday, for the all-important engagement. From the Indian side, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar will lead the delegation, which will comprise officials from the Ministries of Defence and External Affairs.
"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 June 4, 2020," an MEA statement said.
The agenda for the Dialogue will cover a range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest. In the emerging geopolitical scenario, India and Australia are fast emerging to be natural partners. Both these countries, along with the US and Japan, are members of the Quad. This format was formalised at the Philippines capital, Manila, in November 2017.
The visit of former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to India was an important event.
Australia officially described the visit as "an opportunity to progress Australia's ambitious agenda to energise and expand our bilateral trade and investment relationship with India."
Earlier this week, addressing a virtual conference, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar said, "The embedding of India in ASEAN-led structures helped create a regular and comfortable interface with others present, including Australia."
He has also said that the two-way Prime Ministerial visits of Abbott and Narendra Modi in 2014 had opened the "gates for cooperation just waiting to happen."
"It is revealing that our "comprehensive strategic partnership" today covers an annual meeting of PMs, a Foreign Minister's Dialogue, a 2+2 Defence and Foreign Ministers' Talks, a Trade Ministerial Commission, an Education Council, an Energy Dialogue and Working Groups in different sectors," the Minister said.
Both the countries have lately cooperated in a wide range of issues, including maritime collaboration, defence science exchanges, and mutual logistics support to cooperation in cyber-enabled critical technology, critical and strategic materials, water resources management and vocational education and training.