Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles is set to travel to Ahmedabad to attend the cricket World Cup final between India and Australia on Sunday. This visit is part of his two-day trip to India from November 19-20, primarily for the "2+2" ministerial dialogue. Alongside Foreign Minister Penny Wong, Marles will co-chair the second edition of the "2+2" dialogue with their Indian counterparts, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
The "2+2" dialogue aims to enhance overall defense and strategic ties between India and Australia. During Marles' visit, he is expected to engage in bilateral discussions with Singh, and the dialogue will cover a wide range of issues of mutual interest. The discussions are likely to focus on further strengthening defense and security ties, as well as fostering strategic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. Both countries are part of the Quad, a coalition also comprising the United States and Japan, which focuses on ensuring a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific.
The ongoing Hamas-Israel conflict, China's military activities in the Indo-Pacific, and regional security concerns are anticipated to be topics of discussion during the dialogue. The visit is seen as a significant step in advancing the comprehensive strategic partnership between India and Australia, with a previous edition of the "2+2" ministerial dialogue taking place in September 2021. The defense and strategic ties between the two nations have been on an upward trajectory, marked by the elevation to a comprehensive strategic partnership in June 2020 and the signing of the Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) for reciprocal access to military bases in support of logistics.