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The Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh announced that in order to enhance the strategic partnership between India and Australia, a 2+2 Foreign and Defense Ministerial dialogue shall be held soon between the two countries. The statement came after a telephonic conversation that took place between the Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton and his Indian counterpart. After the talks, the two countries expressed that they are satisfied with the progress of the several defence cooperation initiatives that have taken place. As India and Australia upgraded to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in June 2020, the defence ties between the two nations have realized a growing momentum.

With the rise of major powers in the region, the global emphasis has shifted to the Indo-Pacific. The region is bereft with two major issues, the first one being a rising China and the second one being the issue of maritime commons. In order to counter the heavy hand of China in the region, it is imperative for powers like India and Australia to come together. As the regional realities change with an increasingly belligerent China, India and Australia have to cooperate on many fronts including that of security. While the extremely different geographic locations of the two countries pose different security threats to both nations, yet the preponderance of China, a shared idea of democracy and a heavy reliance on the Indo-Pacific waters act as a uniting factor for them. The two countries are already engaged with each other as a part of the Quad grouping backed by the United States. Along with Japan and the US, the other two members of Quad, the navies of India and Australia participated in the Malabar exercise in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal in November 2020. This was followed by the ‘La Perouse’ exercise with France in April.

However, it is important for India and Australia to engage bilaterally. The friction in the ties of China and Australia is a point of convergence for India and Australia. While both the countries are a part of the Quad, it remains only as an informal strategic dialogue without a firm institutional framework. China has made advances along the Line of Actual Control and its ties with India are wavering. The Australia-China relations have also been deteriorating over the issues of trade, Uighurs and handling of the pandemic. This gives India and Australia sufficient space for commonality. India and Australia have shared values, shared interests and not to forget, shared geography as well. Both the countries have also cooperated with each other in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. With a vision of a free, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific region, cooperation amongst the two nations is a necessity. The proposed 2+2 talks would be a crucial stage in stepping up the collaboration between the two countries.

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