India, US hold their Third 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue
(From L-R) United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar at the Third India-US 2+2 Dialogue, at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, on October 27, 2020.

India, US hold their Third 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue

Two sides discuss ways of advancing the U.S.-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership

New Delhi, October 27, 2020

India and the United States discussed ways of advancing their Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership at the Third India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue here today against the growing Chinese aggression in the region, especially in Eastern Ladakh, and the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark T Esper are leading the US delegation to the talks while the Indian side is led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

​The first two 2+2 Ministerial dialogues were held in New Delhi in September 2018 and in Washington DC in 2019.

"The agenda for the third Dialogue will cover all bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest," the Ministry of External Affairs had said last week ahead of today's talks.

Pompeo and Esper met National Security Adviser Ajit Doval today and are due to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Pompeo had met Jaishankar here yesterday and Esper had held discussions with Rajnath Singh ahead of today's dialogue.

In his opening remarks at today's talks, Rajnath Singh noted that the meeting was taking palce at an "extraordinary time".

"This pandemic is something that we have never experienced in our lifetime. Our economies have suffered losses. People have been affected by the pandemic, and a number of those have succumbed, which is a number that is far from insignificant. We have implemented the whole-of-government approach to take industrial and service outputs back to normalcy. We are providing relief to all those badly impacted by the pandemic. We have to quickly make up for the losses as economic downturn will have both domestic and external consequences," he said.

The Defence Minister also referred to the challenges faced by India in view of the "reckless aggression" on its northern borders.

Pompeo said the friendship and commitment of India and the US to a free and open Indo-Pacific was clearly on display when he and Jaishankar were in Tokyo earlier this month for the Quad meeting with their Australian and Japanese counterparts.

"Today is real opportunity for two great democracies like ours to grow closer, as I said on my trip to India last year when I called for a new age of ambition in our relationship. I think we’ve delivered on that over this past year. There is much more work to do for sure.

"We have a lot to discuss today, from cooperating on defeating the pandemic that originated in Wuhan, to confronting the Chinese Communist Party’s threats to security and freedom, to promoting peace and stability throughout the region.

"Together our two countries are building a better future for our people based on our shared set of values and our cultures, our defense ties, our scientific collaboration, and mutual prosperity. I thank you for your leadership, to each of you, to build what ought to be a defining partnership of democracies in the 21st century," he said.

Esper referred to the public health, economic and security challenges around the globe, which the partnership between the two nations had better prepared them to address and deter.

"This year marks the 15th anniversary of the first U.S.-India Defense Framework and our third 2+2 Ministerial. We have strengthened our defense and security partnership considerably since then, especially over the past year, during which we advanced our regional security, military-to-military, and information-sharing cooperation. Our focus now must be on institutionalizing and regularizing our cooperation to meet the challenges of the day and uphold the principles of a free and open Indo-Pacific well into the future," he said.

"Today I look forward to discussing key opportunities to expand our efforts on regional security concerns and to advance our defense priorities, to include increasing information sharing and mutual logistics operations between our militaries," Esper said.

"To my Indian colleagues, thank you again for your gracious hospitality and friendship as we continue to strengthen this most consequential partnership between the world’s two largest democracies," he added.

Jaishankar said he attached great importance to this particular format of their interaction for three reasons.

"First, we live in a more uncertain world with much greater stresses and sharper faultlines. For most countries, that means giving security a greater salience in their foreign policy. As major powers, this is even more so in our case.

"Second, over the last two decades, our bilateral relationship has grown steadily in its substance, facets and significance. The accompanying comfort levels today enable us to engage much more intensively on matters of national security. This format is clearly tailored to that purpose.

"Third, at a time when it is particularly important to uphold a rules-based international order, the ability of India and the US to work closely in defence and foreign policy has a larger resonance. Together, we can make a real difference when it comes to regional and global challenges, whether it is in respecting territorial integrity, promoting maritime domain awareness, countering terrorism or ensuring prosperity," Jaishankar added.


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