Raksha Mantri Ji, Minister Payne and Minister Dutton
1. We have just concluded the first India Australia 2 + 2 Ministerial Dialogue. This format reflects our growing commitment as part of our global strategic partnership. Prior to our meeting today, I met with Minister Payne in the morning to discuss a range of bilateral, regional and international issues.
2. I thank both the Australian ministers and the Australian delegation for their efforts to come here in person to make this dialogue a reality.
3. As democratic regimes, market economies and pluralistic societies, we have a natural connection that has taken on contemporary relevance in a changing world. It was during the first virtual summit of India-Australian leaders held on June 4, 2020 that our prime ministers agreed to elevate our relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership. This 2 + 2 format is a direct result of this leadership summit and is in line with the Global Strategic Partnership.
4. India-Australia relations have experienced unprecedented momentum over the past seven years. Despite the pandemic, commitments have been frequent in various areas. New mechanisms have appeared reflecting new energies. Our person-to-person contacts have added a unique dimension to this relationship through the flow of talent, ideas, education and tourism.
5. Today, as the four ministers met for the first time, we discussed our experiences and our continued collaboration to meet the challenges of COVID 19. Decentralized globalization, strategic autonomy, meaning more acute national security are some of the relevant findings. We also underscored our commitment to building secure and resilient global supply chains. We welcomed the renewed vigor with which the two parties now engage on trade issues to fully accelerate complementarities between us.
6. As stated by Raksha Mantri Ji, we have made significant progress in our defense cooperation framework and we have also set an ambitious framework to further strengthen our cooperation.
7. The 2 + 2 Dialogue reflects the comfort we have achieved in our bilateral relations, particularly in the strategic and security areas, on the basis of the growing convergence with Australia on security issues and our common commitment to a free, open, prosperous and regulated society. based in the Indo-Pacific region.
8. The peaceful development of the Indo-Pacific region has been at the center of our relations. Our two countries believe that it must be shaped in a participatory and collaborative way. We reiterated our commitment to continue working together for peace, stability and prosperity for all countries in the region. This would include a rules-based international order, freedom of navigation in international waters, the promotion of connectivity as well as respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all States.
9. During the 2 + 2 Dialogue, we also exchanged views on developments in our neighboring regions. Afghanistan was, and rightly so, a major topic of discussion. We agreed that the international community must unite in its approach, guided by UNSCR 2593.
10. As members of the Quad, we have recognized the importance of plurilateralism in a multipolar and rebalanced world. We appreciate the value of our trilaterals with Japan, France and Indonesia and will be holding these dialogues soon.
11. The importance of continued cooperation in the multilateral arena to safeguard the rules-based international order was also underlined. Our cooperation in the Commonwealth is important to the performance of this organization.
12. I also spoke specifically with Minister Payne about the problems faced by Indian students in Australia and those wishing to come to Australia as well as the community of Indian origin residing there. I urged that the difficulties faced by the students due to the travel restrictions be treated with kindness as soon as possible.
13. Today is the 20th anniversary of September 11th. It is a reminder – if it is still needed – of the importance of fighting terrorism without compromise. Close as we are to its epicenter, appreciate the value of international cooperation.
14. In conclusion, I thank once again Minister Payne and Minister Dutton for being here in India today and for a very productive 2 + 2 dialogue.
September 11, 2021