The dialogue that wasn’t: All about the 2+2 Dialogue that US called off at last minute

The much-touted 2+2 dialogue was postponed by the United States last week, just days before it was scheduled for July 6.

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The much-touted 2+2 dialogue was postponed by the United States last week, just days before it was scheduled for July 6. However, the US offered to host Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman later which India declined, reported the Indian Express. Originally the dialogue was scheduled to held on April this year but was deferred because US President Donald Trump fired the then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

What is it all about?

The ‘2+2’ dialogue was scheduled to have Indian ministers of Defence and External Affairs meet US Secretaries of Defense and State. The meeting was planned during PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington in June last year and was announced in August 2017, after PM Modi’s phone call with the US President.

The ‘2+2’ dialogue was planned to replace US-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, which used to happen during Obama’s tenure to “generate sustainable economic growth, creating jobs, improving business and investment climate, enhancing livelihoods, and sustaining the rules-based global order,” stated the US Department of State website. Instead, ‘2+2’ was planned to be introduced to “strengthening strategic, security and defence cooperation” between the two countries.

Has India been a part of any such dialogue before?

India has never before held a ‘2+2’ dialogue at ministerial level with any country. However, at the secretarial level, India had held similar ‘2+2’ dialogues with other countries.

How has the plan progressed so far?

Announced in August 2017, the dialogue was supposed to happen in January 2018, reported IE. However, officially the inaugural dialogue was scheduled to happen on April 2018, which got postponed as the US President fired the then US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The rescheduled dialogue was to be held on July 6, 2018, but the present Secretary of State Michael Pompeo called up External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on June 27 “to express his regret and deep disappointment at the US having to postpone the 2+2 Dialogue for unavoidable reasons”.

Why was the inaugural dialogue got postponed?

While none of the countries has given an official reason for the postponement of the dialogue, it is believed that because the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is required to travel to cherish newfound the bilateral ties with the communist country, ever since President Trump’s visit to North Korea. However, US officials have clarified that it has nothing to do with India’s bilateral ties with Russia and Iran.

What are the recent developments?

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman was slated to visit the Pentagon on July 6, right after the meeting of Pompeo and Swaraj. Even though the US government suggested her to carry on with the visit, the Indian government has declined to preserve the order, as they are “keen to preserve the format,” and not doing that would “defeat the purpose,” IE reported.

So when will it finally happen?

According to MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, the Swaraj and Pompeo “agreed to identify new mutually convenient dates to hold the Dialogue at the earliest, in India or the US”. However, no official announcement has been made yet, but it is expected that the dialogue will now be held in New Delhi instead of Washington.

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