India and Australia on Saturday held first-ever 2+2 ministerial dialogue in New Delhi with strong focus on regional stability and the situation in Afghanistan.
The meeting which was attended by External affairs minister S Jaishankar and Union defence minister Rajnath Singh with their Australian counterparts Marise Payne and Peter Dutton exhorted that ‘Afghanistan should not once again become a safe haven for terrorism’.
“During the 2+2 Dialogue, we also exchanged views on developments in our neighbouring regions. Afghanistan was, understandably, a major subject of discussion. We agreed that the international community must unite in its approach, guided by UNSC Resolution 2593,” Jaishankar said at a joint press conference after the talks.
Resolution 2593 (2021), adopted last month under India’s presidency of the United National Security Council, states that the territory of Afghanistan should not be used for terrorist activities or as a safe haven particularly for groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
Jaishankar added that during the meeting both nations had a detailed exchange of views on Afghanistan and the new Taliban ‘dispensation’ there.
Australian foreign Minister Marise Payne, said that ‘future of Afghanistan remains the central concern for both the countries’.
“We share strong interests in ensuring that Afghan, never again becomes safe haven for breeding, training of terrorists. We’re also very focused on seeking safe passage for citizens, foreign nationals, visa holders of other countries who seek to leave Afghanistan,” Payne said.
Payne said both countries also discussed the “challenges” faced by them in the East China and South China Seas, where China is widening its military presence.
India-Australia Reject Criticism Of Quad
During a joint press conference, when asked about Quad being referred to as an ‘Asian NATO’, Jaishankar asserting that it is important not to “misrepresent” the reality.
“We call ourselves Quad and Quad is a platform where four countries have come to cooperate for their benefit and for the benefit of the world.”
“I think a term like NATO is very much a cold war term, looking back. I think Quad looks in the future, it reflects globalisation, it reflects the compulsions of countries to work together,” he said.
“I can’t see any relationship between such issues and the NATO or any other kind of organisations like that. So I think it is important not to misrepresent what is the reality out there,” he asserted.
Australian foreign minister while agreeing to the S Jaishankar views said that Australia and India have re-energised relations, there is also the opportunity to work through smaller groups like the Quad and other pieces of regional architecture like the East Asia Summit or the ASEAN regional forum.
“Quad members are champions of ASEAN centrality, we actively engage in that ASEAN architecture. We are committed to supporting the practical implementation of the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific,” she said.