New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar on Saturday met their Australian counterparts Peter Dutton and Marise Payne as New Delhi and Canberra held their first-ever 2+2 ministerial dialogue. The meeting is currently underway.

Though the leaders are expected to discuss cyber security issues and bilateral trades, the Afghanistan crisis and China's increasing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region will be the top agenda of the 2+2 ministerial dialogue.

Both India and Australia have expressed concerns over the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan and have urged the United Nations (UN) to ensure that the Afghan soil is not used for terror activities by any country against any other nation.

On Friday, Rajnath Singh had also held a conversation with Peter Dutton discussed the Afghanistan issues. During his meet with Dutton, Rajnath also flagged concerns over the Taliban's rise in Afghanistan might affect the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

"Our discussions today focused on our bilateral defence cooperation and expanding military engagements across services, enhancing defence information sharing, cooperation in emerging defence technologies and mutual logistics support," Rajnath said after the meeting, as reported by news agency PTI.

'China's increasing assertiveness in Indo-Pacific'

The defence and foriegn ministers of India and Australia are also expected to discuss China's rise in the Indo-Pacific region. Earlier on Friday, Marise Payne had said that China's "certain actions" in the region have threatened Australia's national interests.

"What we have seen, in recent times, has certainly presented challenges in the relationship. Because we have considered some of those actions have threatened Australia's national interests. And there are a number of actions that were enumerated publically by diplomats in Canberra. That were provided to media by Chinese embassy in Canberra," she said, as reported by news agency ANI.

India too has expressed similar concerns and is discussing ways with the United States (US), Japan and Australia to counter China in the Indo-Pacific. On Saturday, Rajnath had also discuss the Ladakh Standoff with Dutton and said that New Delhi "is committed to resolving the issue peacefully through talks".

About India-Australia 2+2 ministerial dialogue:

India have 2+2 Ministerial format meetings with very few countries, including the USA and Japan. A similar decision was taken for Russia but no dates have been announced yet.

Meanwhile, defence and military cooperation between India and Australia is on an upswing in the last few years. In June last year, 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.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma