India’s endeavour to bolster its military might unfolds as a complex and nuanced narrative. The recent strides made by the Narendra Modi government in remaking India’s military apparatus reflect not only a response to the rising spectre of Chinese power but also an intricate weeding out of ghosts of the past.
In the backdrop of China’s aggressive posturing on maritime matters, India and Australia on Monday agreed that a strong defence partnership between them will augur well not just for their mutual benefit but also for the overall security of the Indo-Pacific.
The two nations discussed the situation in the Indo-Pacific at length and also considered ways to deepen their security and strategic cooperation to meet the present day challenges at the second “2+2″ India-Australia ministerial dialogue held here.
The two sides also discussed various regional and global developments, including the Israel-Hamas conflict, at the dialogue.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar co-chaired the meeting on behalf of India, while the Australian delegation was led by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles and Foreign Minister Penny Wong.
The two sides also reviewed their achievements in consolidating bilateral ties under the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. They also exchanged views on shared priorities for strengthening ministerial and multilateral cooperation.
Singh also held a bilateral meeting with his Australian counterpart before the ”2+2″ dialogue. Both the ministers reaffirmed their commitment towards further strengthening the bilateral defence relations. They expressed satisfaction at the increasing military-to-military cooperation between the two countries, including joint exercises, exchanges and institutional dialogue.
The minister also congratulated Marles on the maiden and successful conduct of multilateral exercise ‘Malabar’ by Australia in August this year.
Both the ministers underscored the importance to further enhance cooperation in information exchange and maritime domain awareness between the two countries. They are also in an advanced stage of discussion to conclude implementing arrangements on hydrography cooperation and cooperation for air-to-air refueling.
The Indian minister emphasised that the forces of the two countries should also look at cooperating in niche training areas like artificial intelligence, anti-submarine and anti-drone warfare and cyber domain. The two agreed that deepening cooperation in defence industry and research would give a fillip to the already strong relationship.
After the ”2+2″ ministerial dialogue, Jaishankar and Wong will hold the 14th Foreign Ministerial Framework Dialogue (FMFD) on Tuesday to take stock of cooperation under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and exchange views on regional and global issues of mutual interest.
The inaugural India-Australia ”2+2” ministerial dialogue was held on September 11, 2021 in New Delhi pursuant to the elevation of the Strategic Partnership to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during the first virtual summit held on June 4, 2020.