India, Australia Concerned Over 'Rapid Rollback on Women's Rights' in Afghanistan
10:15 GMT 12.09.2021 (Updated: 10:20 GMT 12.09.2021)
For the first time New Delhi and Canberra have launched a 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. The latter saw Minister for Foreign Affairs and Women Marise Payne visit India with Defence Minister Peter Dutton. The two ministers met their Indian counterparts, Foreign Minister Subrahamanyam Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
India and Australia have called for a "broad based and inclusive" government in Afghanistan, an indication that the two countries agree on their unwillingness to recognise the Taliban* regime.
Expressing "deep concern about the situation in Afghanistan", top ministers from both countries, who met for a dialogue over the weekend and released a joint statement on Sunday, called for the protection of women and children's rights and their full participation in public life.
There have been "reports of a rapid rollback on women and girls' rights and access to services and public spaces, as well as targeted violence against women's rights defenders", said the statement.
The ministers also agreed to remain alert to the "broader repercussions of the developments in Afghanistan for the ongoing terrorist threats around the world".
India, Australia to Strengthen Defence Ties
The defence ministers of India and Australia, Rajnath Singh and Peter Dutton acknowledged the need to enhance defence cooperation between the countries. Australia has invited India to participate in the upcoming Talisman Sabre exercises, a biennial, multinational military exercise led by Australia and the United States, to empower operational compatibility between their defence services.
The two nations will increase cooperation in various defence technologies, including unmanned vehicles and cyber security. For this more collaboration will be needed between the Defence Research and Development Organisation of India and Defence Science and Technology Group of Australia.
Enhanced Cooperation in Indo-Pacific Region
Canberra and New Delhi reiterated their "commitment to maintain a free, open, inclusive, and rules based Indo-Pacific region to support the freedom of navigation, overflight, and peaceful, unimpeded commerce".
Emphasising that the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea should be fully consistent with international law, particularly, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, they noted that it "should not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of any nation in accordance with international law and reinforce existing inclusive regional architecture".
Both countries pledged deeper engagement in expanding ties between maritime agencies, combating the challenges of marine litter, single-use plastic waste, and target illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. Australia expressed support for India's Indo-Pacific Oceans' Initiative "which will promote better coordination and cooperation to ensure security and growth for all in the region".
The two Quad allies said the group has a shared vision for an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, prosperous, inclusive, and based on respect for international law.
*The Taliban is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and many other nations.