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Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper set to arrive today for India-US 2+2 ministerial dialogue

India and the US are set to review their strategic and security ties and discuss ways to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific during their third 2+2 dialogue between the defence and foreign ministers in New Delhi on Tuesday.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and defence secretary Mark Esper will arrive in the national Capital Monday afternoon for a two-day visit, during which they will also hold bilateral talks with their Indian counterparts S Jaishankar and Rajnath Singh and meet National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The 2+2 ministerial dialogue, to be held on Tuesday morning, is expected to focus on regional security cooperation, defence information-sharing so that the two sides can tackle regional challenges more effectively, global cooperation, including public health collaboration to cope with Covid-19, economic cooperation, and working together in the Indo-Pacific, officials have said.

“Grateful for the opportunity to connect with our partners to promote a shared vision for a free and open #IndoPacific composed of independent, strong, and prosperous nations,” Pompeo tweeted on Sunday as he began a trip that will also take him to Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia.

Wheels up for my trip to India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia. Grateful for the opportunity to connect with our partners to promote a shared vision for a free and open #IndoPacific composed of independent, strong, and prosperous nations. pic.twitter.com/IoaJvtsHZC— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) October 25, 2020

The two sides are widely expected to sign the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), one of four so-called foundational pacts to facilitate sharing of classified satellite and sensor data, during the 2+2 meeting.

Shortly after their arrival in the national capital on Monday afternoon, Pompeo and Esper will hold separate bilateral meetings with their Indian counterparts that will allow the two sides to review and assess bilateral cooperation in diplomacy and defence.

Officials from both sides have pointed to the significance of Pompeo and Esper making an in-person visit at a time when most diplomatic meetings and interactions have moved online due to the pandemic, saying this reflects the importance attached to the relationship with India.

Holding the third 2+2 ministerial dialogue in a little more than two years “demonstrates high-level commitment to our shared diplomatic and security objectives”, the US state department said in a statement.

The US and India have a commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, and the growth in the partnership “reflects a deepening strategic convergence on a range of issues”. The visit by Pompeo and Esper will cap a series of high-profile engagements between the two sides this year, which began with President Donald Trump’s visit to India in February.

“India, with its large economy, strong support for entrepreneurship and innovation, and its growing international trade, is one of the world’s leading economic powers and is well positioned to promote our shared vision for a free and rules-based Indo-Pacific where all nations can prosper,” the statement said.

As outlined in the US national security strategy, Washington welcomes New Delhi’s emergence as a leading regional and global power, and looks forward to collaborating closely during the country’s upcoming term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council during 2021-22.

The recent ministerial meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad in Tokyo, convened by Pompeo and his counterparts from India, Japan and Australia, “demonstrated the strong cooperative ties among Indo-Pacific democracies interested in strengthening a rules-based order”, and the grouping has helped to create resilient supply chains, counter disinformation, and increase maritime security, it added.

By Hindustan Times

Image: AP

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