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India, Australia first ever 2+2 dialogue today; Afghanistan crisis likely on top agenda

India, Australia first ever 2+2 dialogue today; Afghanistan crisis likely on top agenda

Besides Afghanistan crisis, the focus of the talks is also expected to be on boosting overall cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in the face of China's growing military assertiveness in the region

Both Australia and India are part of Quad or Quadrilateral coalition that resolved to work towards ensuring a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific Both Australia and India are part of Quad or Quadrilateral coalition that resolved to work towards ensuring a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific

India is set to host the inaugural 2+2 ministerial dialogue with Australia on Saturday in New Delhi. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Peter Dutton will meet Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

The Australian side will also call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence at around 4:30 pm. The ministers are expected to discuss the Afghanistan situation which has led to a refugee crisis in the region.

India has such a framework for talks with a very few nations comprising the USA and Japan. An equivalent decision was also taken for Russia; however, no dates have been announced yet.

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The focus of the talks at the two-plus-two dialogue is also expected to be on boosting overall cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in the face of China's growing military assertiveness in the region, sources told PTI.

Both Australia and India are part of Quad or Quadrilateral coalition that resolved to work towards ensuring a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific. The other two members of the Quad are the US and Japan.

Expanding bilateral cooperation in areas of maritime security is expected to be another area of focus at the two-plus-two dialogue, the sources added.

The two-plus-two dialogue between the foreign and defence ministers was instituted as part of an overall goal to expand strategic cooperation between the two countries.

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The defence and military cooperation between India and Australia is on an upswing in the last few years.

In June last, India and Australia elevated their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership and signed a landmark deal for reciprocal access to military bases for logistics support during an online summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.

The Australian Navy was part of the recent Malabar naval exercise that also featured navies of India, the US and Japan.