Express News Service
NEW DELHI: Defence minister Rajnath Singh and his Australian counterpart Peter Dutton discussed developments in Afghanistan and spoke of building a robust relationship in a ‘fruitful’ discussion on Friday. Talks took place a day ahead of the maiden ‘two-plus-two’ dialogue between the foreign and defence ministers of the countries.
“India is committed to building a robust partnership with Australia for security and growth of the entire region. I look forward to working with you, Excellency, to take the India-Australia defence partnership to greater heights,” said Rajnath. Both ministers called for a free, open, inclusive and rule-based Indo-Pacific region which is witnessing Chinese military assertiveness.
“Australia and India have tremendous stakes in peace, development and free flow of trade, rules-based order and economic growth in the region,” Rajnath said. He added that they discussed bilateral defence ties and expanding military engagements across services, enhancing defence information sharing and cooperation in emerging defence technology.
Sources said Rajnath and Dutton discussed Afghanistan. “Taliban’s rise raises questions on terror activities, human rights, women and minority rights,” a source said.
Ind-Aus trade deal on cardsNew Delhi: Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the trade ministers of both countries are working on an agreement. “Talks are underway for an interim trade agreement following which it will be converted to a full-fledged agreement,” Payne said at an event organised by the Observer Research Foundation. She said India is a proudly democratic country and a leading force in the Indo-Pacific region.
Af situation of direct concern: India at UNNew Delhi: India’s permanent representative to the UN, TS Tirumurti said New Delhi finds the Afghanistan situation very fragile. “As its immediate neighbour, the situation is of direct concern to us. It’s important the Taliban adheres to its commitment to not allow the use of the Afghan soil for terrorism,” he said.