2+2 dialogue Rajnath: “It’s a reflection of the growing depth and scale of our defense partnership”

iNDICA News Bureau-

India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd J Austin III held delegation-level talks at the Pentagon ahead of the India-U.S. 2+2 ministerial dialogue Monday, April 11.

Rajnath Singh, who is on a five-day visit to the United States, arrived at the Pentagon for a bilateral meeting with Austin.

Austin welcomed Rajnath Singh in an enhanced honor cordon ceremony at the Pentagon.

The defense minister and India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar arrived in Washington Sunday for the fourth 2+2 dialogue with their U.S. counterparts.

The 2+2 dialogue comes in the midst of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to hold a meeting on Ukraine today.

During the meeting Defence Minister Singh said that India has a critical role to play in the Indian Ocean Region and wider Indo-Pacific following Act East and Neighbourhood First policies, adding a major defense partnership is one of the most important pillars of India-US strategic relations.

Speaking at the fourth India-US 2+2 ministerial dialogue here, he highlighted that India played a pre-eminent role in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Major defence partnership is one of the most important pillars of India-US strategic relations. India has critical roles to play in Indian Ocean Region, wider Indo-Pacific following Act East and Neighbourhood First policies,” he said

“India played a pre-eminent role in the region, from Tsunami in 2004 and during COVID-19. We have signed eight different defense-related agreements between our two countries in the last few years, including Space Situational Awareness Agreement for an unclassified domain which is being signed today,” the Defence Minister said

He also said that India-US military engagements increased with higher capability in communication, closer info sharing and enhanced mutual logistics support despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s a reflection of the growing depth and scale of our defense partnership,” Rajnath Singh noted.

“In a decade, our defense supplies from the US rose from negligible to a cumulative amount of over USD 20 Billion. We look forward to US companies investing in India and supporting the Make in India program,” he added.

US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and External Affairs Minister Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held today at Washington.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today held a virtual meeting with United States President Joe Biden wherein both the leaders had an extensive exchange of views on several regional and global issues, such as the Ukraine situation, the Indo-Pacific region.

According to PMO’s release, the two leaders had an “extensive exchange of views on several regional and global issues, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, global economic recovery, climate action, recent developments in South Asia and the Indo-Pacific region, and the situation in Ukraine.”

They also took stock of the significant progress made in bilateral relations in recent years.

Both leaders agreed that further strengthening of the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership would be of tremendous benefit to the two countries, and would also contribute to global peace, prosperity and stability, the statement added.

During the 2+2 dialogue, India and the U.S. will also sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to help protect each other’s satellites. After five years of effort, India and the U.S. will sign the Space Situational Awareness (SSA) MoU, which will help in the exchange of data on threats to the satellites and other space assets of the two countries.

Through the SSA agreement, India will receive data from the U.S. about space debris and other objects in space and the threat they may pose to the safety and security of new launches and existing satellites and other space assets.

In addition, the SSA framework will ensure the sharing of data and services to make certain the long-term sustainability of outer space activities of the two countries, which will protect their satellites from man-made or natural threats.

Space cooperation has been an important part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meetings with the American leadership. During Modi’s visit to Washington last September, he had discussed India-U.S. bilateral cooperation in the space sector with Vice-President Kamala Harris, who heads the National Space Council of America.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has been working on an orbital debris-tracking capability by deploying new radars and optical telescopes under the Network for Space Objects Tracking and Analysis (NETRA) project, a dedicated control center for SSA activities set up in Bengaluru.

NETRA is expected to become involved in various international collaborations on SSA.