New Delhi: India and Australia on Saturday strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and the use of terrorist proxies for cross-border terrorism, even as Canberra reiterated its condemnation of the terrorist attacks in India, including 26/11, the Pathankot and Pulwama attacks.

In a joint statement after the conclusion of the inaugural India-Australia 2+2 Ministers meet, the two sides also reaffirmed their support for the early finalization and adoption of a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

The joint statement, held after talks between External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and his Australian counterpart Marise Payne, and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and his Australian counterpart Peter Dutton, said that both sides welcomed the 12th Joint Working Group Meeting on Counter Terrorism on 17 December 2020, underlining their commitment to combat terrorism.

“They strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, whenever, wherever, and by whom-so-ever committed 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.

“Australia reiterated its condemnation of terrorist attacks in India, including 26/11 Mumbai, Pathankot and Pulwama attacks, and reiterated its support for the people and the Government of India in the fight against terrorism.

“They agreed to continue cooperation in the sphere of counter-terrorism including countering radicalization and violent extremism, combating financing of terrorism, preventing exploitation of the internet for terrorism and violent extremism, strengthening law enforcement cooperation, information sharing, and capacity building.

“The two sides also reiterated their commitment to furthering cooperation in counter-terrorism in multilateral fora such as the UN, G20, GCTF, ARF, IORA and 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,” it said.

On Afghanistan, which was discussed at the meeting, and on which Jaishankar and Payne spoke about earlier, the ministers expressed deep concern about the situation in Afghanistan.

They 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 UNSCR 2593.

They 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 women’s rights defenders. In this regard, the Ministers reiterated their call for protection of rights of women and children and their full participation in public life.

They agreed that a broad-based and inclusive government is necessary for long term peace and stability in Afghanistan. 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.

The Ministers also committed to deepening Australia and India’s economic relationship under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

They appreciated the renewed commitment and progress made by both sides to “achieve an early harvest announcement by December 2021 on an interim agreement to liberalize and deepen bilateral trade in goods and services, and pave the way for an early conclusion of a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement”, it said.

The Ministers looked forward to a balanced trade agreement that encourages expanded trade and investment flows to the benefit of the economies and peoples of both countries. They 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.

Both sides looked forward to the early conclusion of the Migration and Mobility Partnership Arrangement. They welcomed the successful conclusion of the first India-Australia Circular Economy Hackathon in February 2021, and agreed to organise similar events in future to promote exchange of innovative ideas to address emerging challenges.

The Ministers welcomed that a large number of Indian students choose to study in Australia and act as a bridge between the two countries. The two countries reiterated the importance of the defence relationship, a core pillar of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. India and Australia acknowledged the increased defence cooperation between both countries and discussed initiatives to enhance defence engagements.

Both sides welcomed the success of the recently concluded Exercise Malabar Phase I. Australia invited India to participate in future Talisman Sabre exercises. Ministers agreed to reinforce each other’s maritime domain awareness through information sharing and practical cooperation. They affirmed their commitment to keep the seas, space and airways free and open; to keep nations secure from terrorism and piracy; to ensure that global cyberspace is free from disruption, and to ensure access to and responsible use of global commons.

Both countries would endeavour to increase cooperation in various defence technologies and continue the dialogue between the Defence Research & Development Organization of India and Defence Science & Technology Group of Australia.

Both countries also agreed to explore areas of cooperation in the area of defence industries including Unmanned Vehicles and other niche technologies. Recognizing cooperation on cyber security, innovation, digital economy, cyber and critical technologies as an essential pillar of the India-Australia relationship, Ministers reiterated the importance of working together in these areas.

Welcoming India’s Vaccine Maitri initiative, the Ministers agreed to deepen cooperation in vaccine manufacturing, including under the Quad framework, to deliver high quality vaccine to Indo-Pacific partners. Ministers acknowledged that vaccination remains our pathway out of the pandemic, it said.

To further realize the full potential of the India-Australia CSP, the Ministers underscored the intention to expand cooperation under the 2+2 framework and to meet at least once in every two years to maintain the momentum.