As India and Australia prepare for a virtual summit next month between prime ministers amid the coronavirus pandemic, a possible strategic initiative could involve the cooperative use of their respective island territories in the Indian Ocean for strategic purposes.
India’s Andaman and Nicobar islands and Australia’s Cocos (Keeling) islands are well-positioned to offer significant advantages for both countries. The strategic relationship between the two countries is currently underdeveloped, despite strong converging interests.
One challenge in the relationship comes from differences in priority theatres, with India’s in Indian Ocean and Canberra’s in the Pacific. If New Delhi defines the Pacific as its secondary area of interest then for Canberra the Indian Ocean is its second sea. Capacity limitations on both sides mean there is a challenge in deploying resources in secondary areas of interests.