Friday, September 17, 2021

India and Australia call for free and secure Indo-pacific region; Express concern over situation in Afghanistan

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh yesterday said that as two democracies, India and Australia’s common interest lies in the peace and prosperity of the entire region. Briefing media after India-Australia 22 dialogue in New Delhi, Mr Singh said, he and External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar held comprehensive discussions with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Minister Peter Dutton over bilateral and regional issues.

He said, the Ministers also discussed different institutional frameworks for defence cooperation and cooperation in the fight against the pandemic. Mr Singh said, both sides exchanged views on Afghanistan, maritime security in Indo-Pacific, multilateral cooperation and other matters. He said, both sides also emphasised on a rules-based order and agreed to maintain high-level engagement. The Defence Minister said, India-Australia partnership is based on the shared vision of free, open, inclusive, prosperous Indo-Pacific region.

External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar said, India and Australia discussed future collaboration to deal with COVID-19 pandemic. He said, decentralised globalisation, strategic autonomy and a sharper sense of national security are some of the relevant outcomes. Dr Jaishankar said, during the 22 dialogue, both sides exchanged views on developments in the neighbouring regions and Afghanistan was a major subject of discussion.

He said, India and Australia agreed that international community must be united in its approach, guided by UN Security Council Resolution 2593. He said, today is the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 and it is a reminder of importance of combating terrorism without compromise. The External Affairs Minister said, close as we are to its epicentre, let us appreciate the value of international cooperation to that end. He said, both sides set out ambitious framework for defence ties.

Dr Jaishankar said, as democratic polities, market economies and pluralistic societies, India and Australia have a natural bonding that has assumed contemporary relevance in a changing world. He said, both sides also underlined the commitment to create secure and resilient global supply chains. The External Affairs Minister said, both sides welcomed the renewed vigour with which both countries are now engaging on trade issues to fully expedite the complementarities between them.

He said, it was during 1st India-Australia virtual leaders’ summit on 4th of June last year that the Prime Ministers of both countries agreed to elevate the relations to a comprehensive, strategic partnership. Dr Jaishankar said, this 22 format is a direct outcome of that summit and is pursuant to the comprehensive, strategic partnership. He said, Quad is a platform where four countries have come to cooperate for their benefit and world’s benefit. The External Affairs Minister said, Quad looks at the future and it reflects globalisation and compulsion of countries to work together.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said, Australia and India share a positive vision of free, open and secure Indo-Pacific. She said, last month saw fall of Kabul and the future of Afghanistan remains a central concern. Ms Payne said, terrorism is a major threat to both sides. She said, both nations share strong interests in ensuring that Afghan, never again becomes safe haven for breeding, training of terrorists. Ms Payne said, India and Australia are also very focused on seeking safe passage for citizens, foreign nationals, visa holders of other countries who seek to leave Afghanistan.

She said, during the 22 dialogues both nations shared views on the challenges of South China Sea and the East China Sea. The Australian Foreign Minister said, as Australia and India have re-energised relations, there is also the opportunity to work through smaller groups like the Quad or other pieces of regional architecture like ASEAN.

She said, Quad members are champions of ASEAN’s centrality. Ms Payne said, India and Australia actively engage in ASEAN-led architecture and both are committed to supporting the practical implementation of ASEAN outlook on Indo-Pacific. She said, a constructive engagement and an informal diplomatic network is overwhelmingly about contributing for that open, inclusive region.

Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton said, from a year on since Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed the comprehensive Strategic Partnership, Australia and India’s defence relationship at a historic high. He said, India is a rising Indo-Pacific great power. Mr Dutton said, both India and Australia depend on free and open excess to sea lines in the Indo- Pacific for trade and economic well-being. He said, 9/11 Anniversary yesterday is a reminder of barbaric acts of terrorism.

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