Fifth India-US 2+2 ministerial dialogue begins; Indo-Pacific region & defence ties top on agenda

New Delhi: The fifth India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue began on Friday in New Delhi, with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar co-chairing the Dialogue with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Making initial remarks, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, “Both the countries need to keep the focus on important and long-term issues and partnership is critical for ensuring a free, open and rules-bound Indo-Pacific region”.

Rajnath Singh claimed that the India-US bilateral relationship has seen a growing convergence of strategic interests and enhanced defence, security and intelligence cooperation.

He said defence remains one of the most important pillars of the bilateral relationship. “Your visit to India is at a time when India and the US are closer than ever before. In spite of various emerging geopolitical challenges, we need to keep our focus on important and long-term issues” he further added.

Echoing the views shared by Singh, External Affairs Minister Dr Jaishankar stated, “The dialogue today will be an opportunity to advance the vision of our respective leaders building a forward-looking partnership while we construct a shared global agenda”.

“In the two plus two, we will undertake as we have done before, a comprehensive overview of cross-cutting strategic defence and security ties, technology and supply chain collaborations and people-to-people exchanges” he said.

S Jaishankar said, “We are exploring domains such as critical technologies, civil outer space collaboration, and critical minerals, even while consolidating established domains… adding that the key focus of our discussions today will be the Indo-Pacific region”.

Speaking over bilateral trade, the minister said, “Our meeting takes place even as we make rapid strides in all aspects of our bilateral agenda on trade that is today in excess of 200 billion US dollars”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken highlighted the growing ties between India and the US saying that during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US in June, US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Modi set a very ambitious agenda to build a comprehensive strategic partnership.

He said both nations are promoting free, open and prosperous Indo-US Pacific and strengthening partnerships through QUAD.

Speaking on this occasion, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin said, “The scope of cooperation between India and the US is vast ranging from the seabed to space.

He said, “Strength of the world two largest democracies is rooted in people-to-people ties and through cooperation, both the countries are expanding their partnership in new areas including Artificial Intelligence, Semiconductors and Renewable Energy.”

Before the Ministerial Dialogue, External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. In a social media post, Dr. Jaishankar said, “An open and productive conversation on further developing our strategic partnership. Also spoke about West Asia, Indo-Pacific and other regional issues”.

During the meeting, a number of strategic, defence and technology issues are expected to be discussed during the 2+2 dialogue and the bilateral meetings.

The Ministers will take the opportunity to take forward the futuristic roadmap for the India-US partnership as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden, in their discussions in June and September this year.

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