India and the US will jointly face the Chinese threats in the Indo-Pacific as well as in the Indian subcontinent.
The talks were led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar from the Indian side and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper from the US side. (Photo source: ANI)
India and the US will jointly face the Chinese threats in the Indo-Pacific as well as in the Indian subcontinent. The two countries at the end of talks inked four important agreements including the long-delayed Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA). Besides exploring new areas of beneficial cooperation the two sides agreed on enhanced maritime information sharing and maritime domain awareness between the navies. Also to build upon existing defence information-sharing at the joint-service and service-to-service levels and explore potential new areas of mutually beneficial cooperation.
The visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the end of the 2+2 Indo-US Ministerial talks in New Delhi, told the media persons that several issues were discussed including “confronting the Chinese Communist Party’s threats to security and freedom; to promote peace and stability throughout the region as well as working together on defeating the global pandemic that originated in Wuhan, China.”
The issue of security threat India is facing from China was raised during talks by India’s external affairs minister S Jaishankar.
The meeting between the two countries comes just days ahead of the US Presidential elections, and both the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and the Secretary of Defence Mark Esper came to India personally to attend the third edition of talks.
At the meeting with defence minister Rajnath Singh, the visiting Secretary of Defence Esper, pointed out that Tuesday marked the 15th anniversary of the first US-India Defence framework.
Both sides discussed deepening defence and security partnership considerably and to meet the challenges of the day and for upholding the principles of a free and open Indo-Pacific, and to institutionalize and regularize cooperation.
“Over the past year, we advanced our regional security, military-to-military, and information-sharing cooperation,” said, Secretary Esper.
Both countries have agreed to expand their efforts on “regional security concerns” and to also focus on “defence priorities” and to work towards information sharing and mutual logistics operations between the two militaries.
On Foreign Relations
At a time when it is important to uphold a rules-based international order, the ability of India and the US to work closely in defence and foreign policy has a larger significance. According to external affairs minister Jaishankar, “When it comes to regional and global challenges, promoting maritime domain awareness, counterterrorism, or creating prosperity or respecting territorial integrity, together we can make a difference.”
Outcome India-US Defence Dialogue
Defence minister Rajnath Singh told the media persons at the end of the dialogue that both sides have decided positioning a US Navy Liaison Officer (LO) at IFC-IOR and Indian LO at NAVCENT, Bahrain.
Greater interaction and coordination with CENTCOM and AFRICOM.
Increasing the scope and complexities of the joint exercises and setting up of the COMSEC account.
With a Liaison Officer at each other’s establishments, this could be leveraged to further enhance information sharing architecture.
Both countries are also looking at capacity building and other joint cooperation activities in third countries including peacekeeping exercises and training, including the neighbourhood and beyond.
Cooperation in the advanced field of maritime domain awareness and initiating processes for joint development of requisite systems and expertise.
Near-Term projects for joint development between respective agencies have been identified and these will be fast-tracked under the DTTI. Both sides have resolved to work together in Defence R&D more efficiently.
The first ISA Summit to take place later this year.
In the Indo-Pacific Region
Both countries have agreed to uphold the rules-based international order, and respecting the rule of law and freedom of navigation in the international seas. And to also upholding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states.
India and the US on Tuesday reiterated their commitment to maintaining an open, inclusive, free and peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific which is built on a rules-based international order.
And underpinned by ASEAN centrality, rule of law, mutual respect for sovereignty, freedom of navigation, overflight, sustainable and transparent infrastructure.
During the talks the two sides emphasized that in accordance with international law the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea should not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of any nation.
The two sides also talked about India’s development assistance and efforts to build trade linkages and multi-modal connectivity infrastructure for Afghanistan. This would help in enhancing the regional connectivity to sustain growth and development over the long term.
Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Indian Army Veteran, Brig SK Chatterji says, “The 2 + 2 Meet 2020, in spite of the US Presidential Elections being just a week away has seemingly progressed on a firm pitch with neither hesitations nor apprehensions in the approach of both the countries. That’s perhaps an acknowledgement of the Indian side’s assessment that the election results in the US are not expected to result in major foreign policy shifts as far as India is concerned.”
“The Malabar exercise and Australia’s joining it had already been agreed upon by both the countries. The scope and complexities of Malabar exercise could definitely witness a boost. With all four Quadrilateral partners being a part of the exercise, it could prove to be a strong instrument in enhancing inter-operability of the four navies. The Chinese reacted when Australia was invited to join, and would certainly continue to be most concerned,” Brig Chatterji opines.
In conclusion, he says, “The US Secretary of State Pompeo had already stated yesterday that both countries got to work together to counter Beijing’s threat to security and freedom. In fact, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh mentioned China in his opening remarks, today. Obviously, China as the main challenge for both countries has been better appreciated.”