New Delhi, Jun 1 (PTI) Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Australian counterpart Peter Dutton on Tuesday held a telephonic conversation during which they reviewed the progress of various defence cooperation initiatives between the two countries, and resolved to convene a '2+2' ministerial dialogue at the earliest.
The defence ministry said the two ministers reviewed the defence cooperation in the backdrop of the current regional situation and expressed satisfaction at the growing military ties between the two countries.
'Both sides reviewed the progress on various bilateral defence cooperation initiatives and expressed commitment to further elevate engagements between the armed forces. During the dialogue, both ministers expressed their intent to convene the 2+2 ministerial dialogue at the earliest,' it said in a statement.
The '2+2 dialogue' between the foreign and defence ministers was instituted as part of an overall goal to expand strategic cooperation between the two countries. India has such a framework for talks with a very few countries including the US and Japan.
India remained fully committed to implementing the comprehensive strategic partnership with Australia, and both sides look forward to convening the next two-plus-two ministerial dialogue soon, Singh tweeted.
In June last, 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.
'Spoke to Australian Minister for Defence, Mr Peter Dutton about the measures taken by both the countries to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. India and Australia share a warm and people to people contact underpinned by a strategic partnership,' Singh tweeted.
'It is heartening to note that the Australian Armed forces have wholeheartedly supported India in its fight against COVID-19,' he added.
The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) allows militaries of the two countries to use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies, besides facilitating scaling up of overall defence cooperation.
The Australian Navy was part of the Malabar naval exercise hosted by India in November last. The navies of the US and Japan were also part of it.
The defence ministry said both Singh and Dutton acknowledged the momentum achieved by India and Australia in defence cooperation following the elevation of their partnership to that of the comprehensive strategic level.
'The participation of Australia in exercise Malabar has been an important milestone in this enhanced partnership,' it said.
Both Australia and India are also part of the Quad or Quadrilateral coalition. The US and Japan are the other two member states of the grouping. PTI MPB PYK PYK