External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held in-person talks on Saturday with their Australian counterparts Marise Payne and Peter Dutton. (Image: Twitter/@DrSJaishankar)
India and Australia have called for a "broad-based and inclusive" government in Afghanistan to ensure long-term peace and stability in the war-torn country, signalling their clear unwillingness to accord any recognition to the Taliban regime.
In a joint statement issued early on Sunday following the inaugural India-Australia 2+2 ministerial dialogue, the two sides sought the protection of rights of women and children and their full participation in public life and expressed concerns over targeted violence against the defenders of their rights.
The two countries underlined the urgent need for all countries to take "immediate, sustained, verifiable and irreversible" action to ensure that no territory under their control is used for terrorist attacks and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of such strikes.
Australia reiterated its condemnation of terrorist attacks in India, including 26/11 Mumbai, Pathankot and Pulwama attacks, and reiterated its support for New Delhi in the fight against terrorism, the joint statement said.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held in-person talks on Saturday with their Australian counterparts Marise Payne and Peter Dutton.
In the talks, the ministers renewed commitment to achieving an "early harvest" announcement by December on an interim agreement to liberalise and deepen bilateral trade in goods and services that would pave the way for an early conclusion of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).
"The ministers also underscored the importance of an early resolution of the issue of taxation of offshore income of Indian firms under the India-Australia Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement," the joint statement said.
On the situation in Afghanistan, the statement said the ministers expressed deep concern over it. "The ministers called for the Taliban to guarantee safe passage for foreign nationals and Afghans wanting to leave the country. They reiterated calls on those in positions of power and authority across Afghanistan to adhere to counterterrorism commitments and human rights, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2593," the statement said.
UNSC resolution 2593, adopted on August 30 under India''s presidency of the global body, demanded that Afghan territory should not be used to threaten or attack any country or to shelter and train terrorists and plan or finance terrorist attacks.
The joint statement said the ministers noted reports of a rapid roll-back on women and girls' rights and access to services and public spaces, as well as targeted violence against the defenders of their rights.
"In this regard, the ministers reiterated their call for protection of rights of women and children and their full participation in public life," it said.
"The ministers agreed that a broad-based and inclusive government is necessary for long term peace and stability in Afghanistan. The ministers also agreed to remain alert to the broader repercussions of the developments in Afghanistan for the ongoing terrorist threats around the world, and in our region," it said.
The joint statement said Australia also expressed its strong support for India's membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Referring to the threat of terrorism, the two sides strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and the use of terrorist proxies for cross-border terrorism.
"The ministers underlined the urgent need for all countries to take immediate, sustained, verifiable and irreversible action to ensure that no territory under their control is used for terrorist attacks and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of such attacks," the statement said.
It said the two sides agreed to continue cooperation in the sphere of counter-terrorism, including countering radicalisation and violent extremism, combating the financing of terrorism, and preventing exploitation of the internet for terrorist activities.
The two sides also reiterated their commitment to furthering cooperation in counter-terrorism in multilateral fora such as the UN, G20, FATF, as well as in Quad consultations.
"They also reaffirmed their support for the early finalization and adoption of a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that will advance and strengthen the framework for global cooperation and reinforce the message that no cause or grievance justifies terrorism," the statement said.