India-Australia to meet again Monday, this time for…

NEW DELHI: India and Australia are expected to hold their 2 + 2 (Foreign & Defence Minister) Ministerial here on Monday eyeing to expand the strategic partnership even as the Australian PM sought to improve Canberra’s ties with China during his recent visit to Beijing.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Defence Minister Richard Marles would engage with their Indian counterparts S Jaishankar and Rajnath Singh respectively threadbare on the situation in the Pacific region and SE Asia where China has upped the ante.

India has been closely following efforts by Australia to improve its ties with China after a downturn in relations over the past few years, ET has learnt. It is hoped that Canberra will not initiate any steps that could enable Beijing to bolster its military ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region.

It is learnt that Marles, who is also Australia’s deputy prime minister, and Wong may watch the Cricket World Cup final between India and Australia in Ahmedabad on Sunday.

The two sides are expected to focus on boosting overall defence and security ties and boost strategic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region in the “2+2” ministerial dialogue. Both Australia and India are part of the Quad.

The inaugural “2+2′ ministerial dialogue between India and Australia had taken place in September 2021. India has such a framework for talks with the USA, Japan and Russia.

The bilateral defence and strategic ties between India and Australia are on an upward trajectory in the last few years.

In June 2020, 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.

The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) allows the militaries of the two countries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, besides facilitating scaling up of overall defence cooperation.

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