Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Richard Marles, emphasized the significance of China as the largest trading partner and a major security concern for both Australia and India during the 2+2 dialogue. Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong highlighted the consequential nature of the partnership, stating its crucial role in regional stability and prosperity.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the strategic importance of a robust India-Australia partnership for the overall peace and security of the Indo-Pacific. Both ministers acknowledged the growing role of defense as a pivotal aspect of the bilateral relationship, forming a bedrock for cooperation.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar emphasized the broader implications of the Indo-Australian relationship for the region, citing its role as a factor of stability and security amid increasing global uncertainty. The ministers discussed the need for routine efforts to ensure regional safety and prosperity.
Marles, expressing his admiration as a cricket enthusiast, noted India’s central role in the contemporary cricket scene, likening the shared love for the sport to the deep-rooted connection between the two nations. Describing India as the “home of cricket,” he highlighted the strategic alignment, shared history, and democratic values that define the bilateral relationship.
The transformation in the Indo-Australian relationship in recent years was acknowledged, with Jaishankar citing milestones such as the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA), which came into force last December. The ongoing negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) will be reviewed in the 14th Foreign Ministerial Framework Dialogue.
Acknowledging exceptional challenges, Jaishankar stressed the importance of a culture of cooperation to address regional and global issues, including challenges to the rule of law. The Quad format, a partnership involving Australia, India, the United States, and Japan, was highlighted as beneficial for the Indo-Pacific region.
Highlighting the tempo of engagements, Jaishankar noted the frequent meetings between the two Prime Ministers and the numerous ministerial visits, emphasizing the depth and frequency of high-level interactions between India and Australia.