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'2+2' dialogue: India-US relationship has immense potential, says Sitharaman

By Vikas

New Delhi, Sep 6: The much anticipated '2+2' dialogue between India and the United States has begun. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said India and the US are united by shared values of democracy, respect for individual rights and a shared commitment to freedom.

"Given those values India and the United States have a natural starting point..We should continue to ensure freedom of the seas, skies, uphold the peaceful resolutions of the maritime disputes, promote market based economics and good governance and prevent external economic coercion," he said during the meeting.

India-US 2+2 dialogue: Swaraj, Sitharaman hold bilateral talks with Mike Pompeo, James Mattis (Image courtesy - ANI/Twitter)

Eaxternal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said today's meeting will help unleash the untapped potential of India-US relations which will further elevate the level of partnership between the two countries.

"PM Modi and President Trump set future directions for our relationship. I am happy to note that there has been significant progress in all key areas of our relationship," Swaraj said.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the '2+2' meeting is a manifestation of vision of PM Modi and President Trump which is aimed at taking India-US relationship to a higher trajectory.

"This meeting is a reflection of tremendous focus that we have made in developing our ties over past few years. It's a strong recognition of immense potential of our bilateral partnership for benefit of our people, region and beyond," she said.

Before the '2+2' dialogue began, Sushma Swaraj and Mike Pompeo held bilateral talks in New Delhi on Thursday (September 6). In a seperate meeting, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and United States Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis also held talks.

The focus of the talks will be to deepen strategic ties between the two nations in wide range of areas including counter-terrorism, designation of International terrorist organisations and individual terrorists, sharing of information and cooperation in Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

India is also expected to apprise the US about the importance of the Rs 40,000 crore deal it is about to finalise with Russia to procure a batch of S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems. The US has been indicating that it does not want India to go ahead with the deal.

India will also try to "sensitise" the US that any cut in import of Iranian oil in compliance with the US sanctions may impact the country's overall economy as the crude oil from that country is much cheaper.

[2+2 dialogue: S-400 deal, India importing oil from Iran not primary focus of talks, says Pompeo]

Pompeo and Mattis arrived in the national capital on Wednesday. Reflecting the importance of the talks to be held on Thursday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj received Pompeo, while Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman welcomed her US counterpart Jim Mattis at the Palam airport.

[US Secretary of State Pompeo, Def Secy Mattis arrive for 2+2 talks]

Twelve officials from each side are expected to attend the talks which will be followed by a working lunch. In the afternoon, Swaraj, Sitharaman, Pompeo and Mattis will call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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