2+2 dialogue: India, US sign key defence pact, discuss cross-border terror
Washington, Dec 19: The US and India on Wednesday discussed a range of strategic and security issues, including the use of terrorism as statecraft, as they held their second 2+2 dialogue in Washington during which the two sides signed an industrial security agreement that will allow the transfer of defence technology.
The 2+2 dialogue was held at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department here. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo along with Defense Secretary Mark Esper hosted their Indian counterparts External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh for the highest level dialogue between the two countries.
"Throughout 2019 we've seen rapid growth in the US-India strategic partnership. As we aim to review our successes and take this vital relationship to the next level, I'm pleased today to be hosting @EsperDoD, @DrSJaishankar and @rajnathsingh for our 2nd annual Ministerial 2+2," Pompeo said in a tweet.
During a press conference by the four leaders, Esper said the US is working with India on a fair and reciprocal trade deal. The two nations also signed the Industrial Security Annex, Pompeo said. Esper said the US-India defence relationship is strong and continues to improve. "We have made substantial progress in the defence relationship," he said.
Singh said the US and India have a common vision of a free, seamless and peaceful Indo-Pacific region. "Two countries talked about use of terrorism as statecraft," he said. "We are moving ahead to operationalise the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)," he said.
Jaishankar said in recent months we have seen five ministerial dialogues between the two countries -- reflective of the bilateral intense engagement. "Counter-terrorism efforts also discussed during the meeting, including dangers of cross border terrorism," he said. "We had a brief discussion on trade, we noted a very good progress," he said.
Earlier Singh and Jaishankar held separate meetings with their American counterparts. Singh, who is here on his maiden visit to the US as Defense Minister, was accorded a 21 gun salute at the River Side entrance of the Pentagon. Singh and Esper discussed issued related to strengthening defence ties and issues of mutual interest and concerns, including the neighbourhood and the Indo-Pacific region.
"Had an excellent meeting with the US Defence Secretary Mr Mark Esper in Washington today. During our bilateral talks, we reviewed the full range of India-US defence cooperation. India and the USA are cooperating extensively in strategic and military areas," Singh said after his meeting with Esper. Across the Potomac river at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department, Jaishankar and Pompeo discussed bilateral and regional issues. The first 2+2 dialogue was held in New Delhi in September last year after the mechanism was approved by Modi and Trump.