Australia is set to play host to the upcoming Indian Ocean Conference scheduled to take place in Perth in February of 2024, as revealed by Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong. Wong disclosed this information during a joint press briefing in New Delhi alongside India's External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, marking the India-Australia Foreign Ministers' Framework Dialogue.
Expressing enthusiasm about the forthcoming event, Minister Wong emphasized the conference's significance in addressing pivotal challenges encountered within the region. "I'm pleased to announce today that Australia will be the venue for the Indian Ocean Conference in Perth next February. This presents an invaluable opportunity for comprehensive discussions centered on practical solutions for the region's primary challenges," Wong stated during the briefing.
The Indian Ocean Conference, inaugurated in 2016 in Singapore with the participation of 30 nations, has evolved into a crucial platform for regional deliberations and consultations over the past six years. Serving as a consultative forum, the conference aims to unite key states and major maritime partners, fostering dialogue on regional cooperation under the theme of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).
During her meeting with Minister Jaishankar in New Delhi, Wong highlighted the extensive coastal boundaries shared by India and Australia along the Indian Ocean, underscoring the importance of their proximity in defining their mutual interests and collaboration. The discussions between the two ministers encompassed various pressing issues, including their joint efforts regarding climate change, maritime security, and the preservation of ocean health in the Indian Ocean region.
Furthermore, Wong outlined the bilateral initiatives between Australia and India, unveiling plans for an Australia-Indian Audio Visual Coproduction agreement designed to expand markets for Australian and Bollywood films and series, fostering broader audience reach.
Addressing the broader regional dynamics, Minister Wong emphasized the comprehensive strategic partnership between India and Australia, aligning their interests as Quad partners, and their shared vision for a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region that respects sovereignty and benefits all nations.
Touching upon Australia's relations with China, Wong emphasized a pragmatic approach characterized by engagement based on mutual interests, cooperation where possible, and respectful disagreement when necessary.
Acknowledging the bilateral ties between Canberra and New Delhi, Wong emphasized the mutual importance of their relationship in fostering a region characterized by respect for sovereignty and stability.
The joint India-Australia 2+2 Defence and Foreign Ministerial Dialogue, co-chaired by Rajnath Singh, S Jaishankar, Richard Marles, and Penny Wong, aimed to further strengthen bilateral cooperation across various domains, reflecting the shared commitment towards regional stability and prosperity.