India-US 2+2 Dialogue: Concerns related to Afghanistan & Iran must be raised, says expert

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October 26, 2020 11:40 AM

During the third 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, security issues in the Indo-Pacific, Maritime Domain Awareness, fight against terrorism, and defence cooperation and joint defence production will constitute the key items of this meeting.

During the third 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, security issues in the Indo-Pacific, Maritime Domain Awareness, fight against terrorism, and defence cooperation and joint defence production will constitute the key items of this meeting. (File photo: AP)

The Minister of External Affairs, S Jaishankar, and Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh will meet their US counterparts in New Delhi on Tuesday, Oct 27, 2020. During the third 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, security issues in the Indo-Pacific, Maritime Domain Awareness, fight against terrorism, and defence cooperation and joint defence production will constitute the key items of this meeting. “It would be in the interest of India to discuss its concerns in Afghanistan and Iran. The US wants to expand its influence in the Indo-Pacific by developing ties with Sri Lanka and the Maldives, opines Prof Rajan Kumar, School of International Studies, JNU.

Significance of 2+2 Dialogue

Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Prof Rajan says, “A successful partnership can be measured by the mechanisms of institutional cooperation developed between the two countries. India and the US are gradually moving towards formalisation of their relationship. The 2+2 dialogue mechanism is an important step in that direction. Their focus has been on security concerns, but there is an immense scope of scaling up the cooperation on trade and political issues.”

“This meeting is taking place at a time when the Indian army is engaged in a prolonged standoff in Ladakh, while the US wants to check Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea. The interests of the two nations converge in the Indo-Pacific and Indian Ocean Rim regions. India is committed to free navigation in the South China Sea. India’s active participation in the QUAD and Malabar Exercises are aimed at ensuring free navigation in those regions,” Prof Rajan says.

According to him, “India and the US would share information on the standoff at Ladakh. But they are likely to be cautious in issuing formal statements. India is opposed to any third-party meddling or mediation. The US has also refrained from issuing statements in support of India. Trump’s offer of mediation was not taken seriously by India. The US has criticised Chinese expansionism and its attempts to threaten neighbours. This has been interpreted as the US’ support to India against China.”

At the Military Level…

“The two countries will sign an important agreement known as the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).This allows sharing of geospatial data which can be used for both civil and military purposes. This is the third important agreement following the LEMOA in 2016, and COMCASA in 2018. Taken together, they allow the sharing of assets and information by the two militaries. These agreements are essential for enhancing military cooperation between the two countries.

The US is keen to sale more weapons to India. India’s defence purchases are likely to multiply in the coming years, and the US would like to ensure its share in that market,” Prof Rajan concludes.

Arrival on Monday

On Monday, both US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper are reaching India for the third edition of the Indo-US 2+2 Ministerial level dialogue in New Delhi. The dialogue assumes significance as it takes place just a week ahead of the presidential elections in the United States.

As has been reported by Financial Express Online, the talks will take place on Tuesday, where issues related to the ongoing standoff between India and China along the Line of Actual Control will be discussed, as well as critical bilateral, regional and global issues are on the agenda. The `Quad’ which has now been formalised with the inclusion of Australia will also be part of talks as all the four countries (Japan, US, India and Australia) are going for Ex Malabar next month.

The US has been very aggressive in its handling of China over a wide range of issues including its expanding presence in the South China Sea, the anti-government protests in Hong Kong, and the presence of the Chinese militia in the Pacific Ocean.

Agenda of the visiting dignitaries

According to an advisory issued by the Ministry of Defence, on Monday afternoon the US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper will be given a tri-services guard of honour at the lawns of South Block.

Both Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper are scheduled to make a joint call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.

The defence ties between the two countries have witnessed an upswing in the last few years and the military trade too has gone up significantly. The Trump administration has designated India as `Major Defence Partner’ and has approved the sale of hi-tech military equipment to India. The two countries are also looking at joint production of UAVs and other systems in India.

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