Rivals in cricket but unified by the 2+2 Dialogue - Hindustan Times
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Rivals in cricket but unified by the 2+2 Dialogue

ByHindustan Times
Nov 26, 2023 10:38 PM IST

This article is authored by Ayanangsha Maitra, foreign policy scholar and journalist, New Delhi.

Just days after an exciting match between India and Australia, the two countries convened the 2+2 ministerial dialogue in New Delhi on November 20. At a time when the global order is being altered due to factors such as war in Ukraine and Gaza and the aggressive march of China, the ministerial dialogue between two strategic partners has significant implications both for bilateral relations as well as for the region. The deputy prime minister of Australia and defence minister Richard Marles, foreign affairs minister of Australia Penny Wong and their counterparts Rajnath Singh and S Jaishankar joined in the India-Australia 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in New Delhi. Ms Wong and external affairs minister Jaishankar held the 14th Foreign Ministerial Framework Dialogue on November 21, where they took stock of cooperation under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and other issues of mutual interest.

Indian captain Rohit Sharma and Australian captain Pat Cummins at the toss before the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 final between India and Australia(PTI)
Indian captain Rohit Sharma and Australian captain Pat Cummins at the toss before the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 final between India and Australia(PTI)

Australia is among the four countries with whom India holds the 2+2 dialogue apart from the United States, Japan and Russia. Australia and India have come closer over the recent years and New Delhi’s growing bonhomie with Washington is certainly one the reasons. A large number of Indian skilled migrant labourers work in Australia, making India the second largest source of human resource in addition to the student community. The two have shared interest in the sphere of renewable energy, supply chain, Artificial Intelligence and maritime technologies.

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During the last 2+2 ministerial dialogue, Rajnath Singh underscored the defence and strategic partnership with Australia and S Jaishankar raised regional stability and global issues. Due to China's aggressive exercises near mainland and maritime boundaries, the Indo-Pacific remained a top priority in the dialogue. India will support Australia’s initiative Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2024. Australia will participate in India’s multilateral air Exercise Tarang Shakti in 2024, and India will join Australia in Exercise Pitch Black 2024. India is also invited to Australian initiative Exercise Talisman Sabre 2025.

India and Australia which have a vast peninsular geography, discussed hydrography cooperation and strengthening ties in sectors such as critical minerals, space, education, and science and technology. The Indian side tabled the proposal of jointly working in the domains like shipbuilding, ship repair and maintenance, and aircraft maintenance, repair, and Joint research in underwater technologies. The defence start-ups of both the nations were encouraged. The two capitals, boasting their burgeoning economy, are contemplating signing a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which will be based on the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) signed in April 2022.

Some years ago, New Delhi expressed interest in Australian defence hardware like Bushmaster and Hawkei armoured mobility vehicles, maritime training simulators, mobile health stations, as well as radar and undersea technologies. In the 2+2 dialogue, the two sides discussed anti-submarine warfare, anti-drone warfare, cyber, air-air-refuelling and underwater technologies.

This is worth mentioning that the ministerial meeting took place when India’s relations with Canada were in a shambles. The issue of Canada's tolerance of extremism and radicalism was raised by Jaishankar with his Australian counterpart during the bilateral meeting.

Besides Quad, the discussion on Gaza and restating a two-State solution reflects Australia’s shared vision with India. West Asia is a remarkable landmark in the policy handbook of New Delhi and Canberra.

This article is authored by Ayanangsha Maitra, foreign policy scholar and journalist, New Delhi.

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