India-US 2+2 foreign affairs, defense ministerial next week

Arul Louis-


The India-US 2+2 ministerial dialogue of the top foreign affairs and defense leaders will be held on Wednesday, the State Department has announced.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper will host India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishanker and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh in Washington to “focus on deepening bilateral strategic and defense cooperation, exchanging perspectives on global developments, and our shared leadership in the Indo-Pacific region,” the State Department said in a statement on Thursday.

“Building on the success of the inaugural US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in 2018, this year’s meeting reflects the rapid growth of the vital strategic partnership between the United States and India,” it added.

Then-Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the late External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj hosted Pompeo and former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis for the inaugural 2+2 last year in New Delhi.

A Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) to facilitate access to advanced military systems and enable India to utilize its existing US-origin equipment was signed at the meeting.

The four leaders also emphasized working “together and in concert with other partners toward advancing a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, based on recognition of ASEAN centrality.”

Next week’s 2+2 comes at a time of close cooperation between the two countries in defense with a focus on the Indo-Pacific region and US backing on the diplomatic front, while there has been a setback in trade with an agreement pending.

An inter-sessional 2+2 was held in Monterey, California, in August at the joint secretaries level with Gourangalal Das of the Ministry of External Affairs and V. Anandarajan of the Ministry of Defence and Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells and Assistant Secretary of Defense Randall Schriver.