Mint Explainer: What’s on the table for the India-Australia 2 + 2 talks?

India’s foreign minister S. Jaishankar and defence minister Rajnath Singh are set to meet with their Australian counterparts, foreign minister Penny Wong and defence minister Richard Marles, in the 2+2 ministerial dialogue today. Mint takes a look at what’s on the agenda.

What are these meetings about?

The 2 + 2 is a unique ministerial dialogue that brings senior ministers together in a bilateral setting. India maintains this format only with a few key partners like Australia, the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom. This will be only the second 2+2 round with India’s Quad partner Australia after the first round was held in 2021. 

What was the focus of the last talks?

Collaboration on combating the pandemic was a major focus of talks in 2021. Australia also announced that it would post a liaison officer at the Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region, which helps improve maritime domain awareness for both countries. Australia had invited India to participate in the Talisman Sabre defence exercises. They also discussed the unfolding crises in Afghanistan and Myanmar,

What is the focus of current talks likely to be?

The growth in bilateral ties in recent years has been driven by a shared interest in ensuring stability in the Indo-Pacific region. To that end, defence exercises and talks between the two countries have increased. Defence and increased collaboration on defence technologies is expected to be a focus of talks this time around. 

The two countries are also working through the Quad and a new trilateral partnership with France to address regional needs like climate change, development and telecommunications technology. Besides this, both sides are negotiating a comprehensive free trade agreement, which will likely feature in the talks.

“Ministers will advance cooperation on our shared regional interests, including in defence, security, renewable energy and technology. They will also discuss deepening trade and investment ties,” according to a press statement from the Australian Defence Force.

Are there likely to be any sensitive discussions during these talks?

The foreign minister level talks may see some discussion of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations that India had a role in the killing of pro-Khalistan extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. 

“There’s no doubt any allegation of any country being accused of carrying out an execution of a citizen in that country, it’s a serious allegation, and something that we don’t do and something that nations should not do,” said Mike Burgess, Australia’s domestic spy chief, in a recent interview. 

Penny Wong, the country’s foreign minister, had said that these allegations “concerning”.

Latest news
Related news