External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar engaged in discussions with Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles on Monday, addressing critical issues such as the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. The meeting took place as part of the second India-Australia 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, emphasizing the growing bilateral relationship between the two nations.
During the talks, Jaishankar shared insights on recent developments impacting the Indo-Pacific strategic landscape. In his opening remarks, Jaishankar underscored the rapid growth of the India-Australia bilateral relationship over the past year, particularly amid the increasing global uncertainty. He acknowledged the challenges of sharper polarisation and deeper stresses in the current international scenario, emphasizing the need to work for stability on a daily basis.
"When it comes to 2+2, I would like to make a few points for our collective consideration. One, our bilateral relationship has certainly grown rapidly but it has larger implications for the region and a lot of other countries look to us and to our relationship in many ways as a factor of stability and security. Second, this has happened at a time when there is increasing uncertainty in the world. We are seeing sharper polarisation, and deeper stresses and today while it is important to ensure that the routine is there for the region to feel safer," said Jaishankar.
"So, we have to build and act for stability on a daily basis. Third, we do face exceptional challenges - some regional, some global, many of them involve challenges to the rule of law and as comprehensive strategic partners, it is important to also plan for those exceptions...Fourth, our partnership in the Quad format has been very beneficial for the Indo-Pacific Region and our own bilateral relationship," added Jaishankar.
Marles underscores importance of geographical proximity
Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles highlighted the significance of India and Australia cooperating in the face of shared challenges. He pointed out that China, as the biggest trade partner and the "biggest security anxiety" for both countries, necessitates collaborative efforts. Stressing the importance of their geographical proximity, Marles emphasised the critical moment for India and Australia to work together as neighbours.
The officials discussed the exceptional challenges faced by both nations, including man-made situations and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) efforts. Jaishankar emphasized the importance of planning for such exceptions and fostering a culture of cooperation to withstand challenges.
Acknowledging the shared ocean between India and Australia, Marles emphasised the critical need for cooperation in maritime domain awareness. The leaders highlighted the importance of a united front to address regional concerns, promote stability, and fortify the bilateral relationship in the face of evolving geopolitical dynamics. The dialogue aimed to enhance strategic coordination and cooperation between India and Australia on various fronts, recognizing the ever-changing global landscape.