indica Washington Bureau
Nearly, after the India-US ‘2+2 Dialogue’, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met his American counterpart John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis, in Washington DC this week to discuss the “future direction” of the strategic ties.
“During the three back-to-back meetings, Doval had good chance to review the entire bilateral relationship after the 2+2 talks. They build upon the discussion in New Delhi last week,” informed sources told this correspondent.
Ever since Bolton took office in April, this was Doval’s first meeting with him, and was described as “good first meeting”, according to media reports. Bolton is Doval’s third US counterpart, following Michael Flynn and HR McMaster.
Describing the talks “as a very broad-based discussion”, the sources said Doval and the three US principals talked about the “future direction” of the strategic relationship and identified areas of co-operation.
The National Security Adviser, who was accompanied by Indian ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna, met Pompeo and Mattis for the second time after their 2+2 ministerial in New Delhi. Upon his return, Mattis had described his visit to New Delhi as “heartening trip, historic I’d even say” and “a defining moment for the relationship”.
Without going into the specifics, the sources further said that regional issues and global developments too figured in the talks. Media reports said that India and US are also seeking conversion on their views on the stability of Afghan regime.
Doval’s US visit comes close on the heels of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s arrival in India next month and a possible deal on S-400 missile system on October 5.
In an attempt to further bolster the relations, Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is expected to travel to Washington for a bilateral engagement with Mattis, according to media reports. The dates are being worked out.
At the recent 2+2 talks, India and the US had expressed commitment to work together and in concert with other partners toward advancing a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
US Ambassador to India, Ken Juster tweeted that the last week’s 2+2 dialogue “set the course for even closer ties” between the two countries.
The two nations inked the landmark Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement (COMCASA) after the crucial 2+2 dialogue External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Sitharaman had with Pompeo and Mattis on September 6.
“We’ve seen positive momentum regarding the US-India relationship these past few weeks with 2+2 dialogue and the progress continues with Doval’s visit to the US,” said the US India Strategic and Partnership Forum (USISPF).
Earlier, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells told an audience in Washington that the 2+2 reaffirmed the strength of the India-US relationship.
“It reaffirmed the alignment of our interests and our values in promoting an open and free Indo-Pacific. It also underscored our interest in amplifying what it means to have a major defense partner in India, and really provided the building blocks, not for the next six months or year, but for decades, of how we move forward carefully in building what is a very special relationship,” Wells said.