New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Peter Dutton on Friday arrived in India to hold a '2+2' ministerial dialogue with their Indian counterparts Dr S Jaishankar and Rajnath Singh. During the meeting, which will be held on Saturday, the Foreign and Defence Ministers of Australia and India are expected to discuss the situation in Afghanistan that has led to a refugee crisis in the region.

Earlier, Australia had said that it is concerned about the new Afghan regime, saying it is not "inclusive" as it has several terror groups, including the Haqqani Network, which have been sanctioned by the United Nations (UN). It also said that Australia is working with its allies to ensure a "joined-up approach in any engagement with the Taliban".

"We are focused on ensuring that the Taliban ensures safe passage to those people who want to leave, ceases violence, pursues an inclusive government, prevents violent extremism within Afghanistan, prevents terrorism directed outwards from Afghanistan and upholds human rights, particularly for women and girls," he said, as reported by Hindustan Times.

India too has expressed concerns over the situation in Afghanistan. On Wednesday, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar had said that Afghan soil must not be used by any country to promote terrorism. He said the world seeks an Afghanistan free of terrorism, providing unhindered access for humanitarian assistance, respecting the right to travel and establishing an inclusive government.

"Regarding counter-terrorism, we are all clear that the use of Afghanistan's soil to promote terrorism in any manner by any country is unacceptable. The Taliban has made public declarations to this effect. It is absolutely essential that they live up to their words," Jaishankar said, as reported by news agency PTI.

China's behaviour in Indo-Pacific, COVID-19 on agenda too

The Foreign and Defence Ministers of Australia and India are also expected to discuss China's behaviour in the Indo-Pacific region and how the two countries can counter it. The Ministers will also discuss the COVID-19 crisis to "strengthen the relationship" between New Delhi and Canberra.

"During our meetings and engagements across the four countries, we will discuss our continuing partnerships to overcome the pandemic, including through the equitable, safe and effective distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, and our shared path to global economic recovery," Payne had said earlier, as reported by PTI.

The two-plus-two dialogue between the foreign and defence ministers is instituted as part of an overall goal to expand strategic cooperation between the two countries. The 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