New Delhi: India and Australia on Saturday, Sept 11, expressed concern on the absence of "inclusiveness" of the new Taliban dispensation in Afghanistan and also on matters such as treatment of women and minorities and matters related to travel of Afghans.
"It is an evolving situation (in Afghanistan). I think it was a good exchange of notes," External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar told reporters in presence of Australian Foreign Marise Payne and two Defence Ministers Peter Dutton and Rajnath Singh.
All the four ministers held the first 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in New Delhi.
During the deliberations, it was discussed that Afghanistan must not allow its soil to be used in "any manner by anybody for terrorism".
Dr Jaishankar said: "But apart from that there were issues of concern about the inclusiveness of the dispensation, concerns about treatment of women and minorities, matters related to travel of Afghans issues regarding humanitarian assistance".
Australian Foreign Minister Ms Payne said: "We do share very strong interests in ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for the breeding or the training of terrorists. That is an abiding concern".
"For Australia's part, we are also very focused on seeking safe passage for those in Afghanistan, citizens, foreign nationals, visa holders of other countries who seek to leave Afghanistan, and we have urged that they be allowed to leave safely".
Defence Minister Ranath Singh said India has "invited" Australian industry to take advantage of India's liberalized foreign direct investment policies. "We are fully committed to building a strong partnership with Australia for the security and development of the entire region," he said.
Echoing similar sentiment, Australian Defence Minister Dutton said both the countries are dedicated to making sure that peace continues in the region. "…. and then our countries can continue to thrive and prosper," he said.
During the discussions both sides emphasised the need to ensure free flow of trade, adherence to international rules and norms and sustainable economic growth in the entire region.
Dutton also said, "We both depend on free and open access to sea lanes in the Indo Pacific for our trade and economic well being".
India also urged Australia to sympathetically address the difficulties being faced by Indian students due to the travel restrictions put in place in view of the COVID-19.
Ms Payne said, there are over 60,000 Indian students now in Australia.
But, she hastened to add: "I do definitely understand the desire that those students and their families who are not able to be there have that desire they have for the on campus experience".
But she said Covid norms have to be followed. "In fact, for ministers, like Minister Dutton and I, we are required to comply with the same sort of quarantine restrictions, and health requirements as all incoming travellers as you would expect. So our approach in Australia has been based on research".
Dr Jaishankar said that the Modi government has taken up the issue of problems being faced by students due to travel restrictions not just with Australia but with other countries like the US and Canada.
He said matters concerning students gets "very high priority" with the government and thus it has take up "very, very vigorously" he issues with foreign partners.