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Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar Meets the Australian Counterpart for the 14th Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue

On November 21, 2023, External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar met his Australian counterpart Penny Wong, for the 14th Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue held in New Delhi. They both discussed issues of global and regional interest and also took stock of bilateral cooperation between the two countries under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. According to Dr. Jaishankar, this was the 11th time the two officials have met in the last 18 months, which is indicative of the growing relationship between the two nations. In his opening remarks, he says, “bilaterally, trilaterally with other countries, quadrilaterally on occasion, and what today brings us closer together is actually a shared vision of an open, free, inclusive, prosperous, and rules-based Indo-Pacific.”

Issues Covered in the Dialogue:

One of the main agendas in this Ministerial Dialogue was the issue of the QUAD, or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, which is a diplomatic network among Australia, India, the United States, and Japan. Dr. Jaishankar pointed out that the “QUAD has made enormous progress in the last few years. There is a broad range of issues on which we are cooperating. There is an inclination to push the envelope to find new convergences and fresh areas of cooperation. Today’s discussion was around what more we can do to add to the QUAD.”

Both ministers also held discussions on security issues in the Indo-Pacific. Dr. Jaishankar observed that both countries were committed to a “free, open, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region along with a rules-based international order.” He pointed out how both countries had previously worked together in forums committed to restoring peace in geopolitical regions, like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Apart from that, they also held discussions on West Asia, the Middle East, ASEAN, and Southeast Asia. Navigation in international waters, promoting connectivity and growth, and global security without compromising regional integrity are aspects that both countries are committed to.

Furthermore, according to Penny Wong, “We discussed, among other things, our work in the Indian Ocean Region and how we can collaborate on climate change, maritime security, and the health of the oceans. Australia and India share a lot.” She also announced that Australia is expected to host the Indian Ocean Conference in Perth in February 2024.

Both parties agreed to strengthen their strategic partnership and move ahead with the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) negotiations. The ECTA was enforced last year, and the positive implications of the same could be witnessed in terms of the increase in trade between the two countries. Apart from that, the ‘Migration and Mobility Partnership’ arrangement facilitated the mobility of Indian students and professionals to visit Australia and is responsible for the thriving Indian community in the latter.

The historical ties between India and Australia go way back, with diplomatic relations between the two being established in 1941. The two countries upgraded their bilateral relations from ‘Strategic Partnership’ to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2020. Since then, there have been several ministerial visits from both ends to develop relations between the two. The Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue is one such mechanism to further the bilateral agenda. These meetings are held annually and alternately in both countries. The last meeting was held in Canberra, Australia, on October 10, 2022.