Indo-US 2+2 talks opportunity to deepen strong partnership between two largest democracies: official

 

WASHINGTON, Dec 13:The 2+2 Indo-US ministerial dialogue is an opportunity between two largest democracies of the world to further deepen their strong partnership since both have so much in common with increasingly robust people-to-people-ties, a senior US State Department official has said.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will arrive here next week for the second round of the ‘2+2’ dialogue on December 18 with their US counterparts Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.

The inaugural ‘2+2’ Indo-US dialogue was held in New Delhi in September last year.

“The Indo-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue symbolises our growing strategic partnership and serves as a forum for discussion on critical diplomatic and security issues. This year’s dialogue is an opportunity to build on last year’s success and forge an even stronger partnership,” State department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a tweet.

She said the event symbolises the growing strategic partnership between India and the US and serves as a forum for discussion on critical diplomatic and security issues around the globe.

“India and the US have so much in common and both are democracies with increasingly robust people-to-people ties. We are partners on the sea, in the air and even in space,” Ortagus said.

Other officials in the State department also stated that the 2+2 Indo-US ministerial dialogue will address ways to further accelerate and deepen the cooperation between the two economies.

“The 2+2 will address ways to further accelerate and deepen our cooperation. Our two sides will discuss and coordinate on the pressing regional and global challenges of the day,” a senior official said on the condition of anonymity.

He hoped that the next discussions will make progress on another enabling agreement that will support their goal of greater defense industrial cooperation and interoperability.

“It is those strong people-to-people ties that are a key foundation supporting all of this progress,” he said.

Those ties were on display when President Donald Trump joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Howdy Modi rally in Houston in September, said the official.

“From the four-million strong Indian-American diaspora to 200,000 Indian students on US campuses, our peoples, businesses, and institutions are closely linked, with ties that are only growing stronger,” the official said.

Observing that the upcoming meeting underscores the high priority the Trump administration places on a strong US-India relationship, the official said the relationship has evolved dramatically from a relationship of great potential to one of great achievement.

“And we have ever higher ambitions that we plan to set out at the upcoming 2+2,” the official noted.

Over the past 15 months, the official said, the two countries have witnessed continuing growth in bilateral and multilateral cooperation with India on preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

“We agree with India on the importance of supporting ASEAN centrality, a rules-based order, freedom of navigation and overflight, good governance, high-quality and transparent infrastructure and investment, and private-sector led growth,” the official said.

“We have continued to coordinate our approaches to Indo-Pacific priorities through bilateral and plurilateral meetings, to include the “Quad” comprised of the United States, India, Japan, and Australia. Secretary Pompeo hosted the first-ever Quad Ministerial at the UN General Assembly in September, which showcased our commitment to working with like minded Indo-Pacific partners,” said the senior State Department official.

The US and Indian navies, alongside the navies of Japan and the Philippines, conducted the first-ever joint sail in the South China Sea in May, reinforcing the principle that the Indo-Pacific should be open to all, the US official observed.

And just last month, the US and India held Tiger Triumph, the first-of-its-kind, tri-service military exercise, which strengthened cooperation among the forces in the areas of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, the official said.

“We have also continued to expand our defense trade, which yields significant benefits to India’s defense capabilities and our bilateral defense relationship,” said the official. (PTI)