The much-awaited first-of-its-kind 2+2 dialogue between India and the US saw the countries signing a landmark security pact, the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), deciding to set up hotlines between their defence and foreign ministers, and deliberating on thorny issues such as India's purchase of S-400 missiles from Russia and import of crude oil from Iran.
Addressing the media after the 2+2 dialogue, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Defence Secretary James Mattis said that the two countries are committed to work towards strengthening Indo-US relationship.
- Issues including cross-border terrorism, India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the contentious H1B visa issue were also discussed
- External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and their US counterparts met PM Modi after the dialogue
- The 2+2 dialogue was first scheduled for April and then for July, before being finally held on 6 September
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'Highest-Level Political Engagement Between India and US'
Sources told PTI that the focus of the twice-postponed talks will be to lift the strategic engagement between the two countries, adding that it "is the highest-level political engagement between the two countries this year".
As Secretary Pompeo arrives in Delhi on Wednesday from Islamabad, India will also try to get his view about his engagement with the new government in Pakistan headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the sources said.
India is also expected to raise its concerns over the Trump administration's decision to make changes in the H1B visa programme.
'Iranian Oil Export, India Buying Russian Missile System Not the Primary Focus': Pompeo
Speaking to the travelling US media, Pompeo said that issues like India buying Russian missile defence systems and Iranian oil export to India will "certainly come up, but I don't think they'll be the primary focus of what it is we're trying to accomplish here."
Mike Pompeo Arrives in New Delhi, Received by Sushma Swaraj
United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, arrived in India for the key 2+2 dialogue and was received by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Delhi.
Ready To Discuss Anything With India: Mattis
US Defense Secretary James Mattis on 5 September said he is ready to discuss "anything" during the inaugural two-plus-two dialogue and anticipates that the issue of the purchase of S-400 Russian missile system would be brought up by the Indian delegation.
Asserting that India and the US will have a very transparent dialogue, Mattis said it is a dialogue between two co-equal and sovereign nations.
Responding to questions on India's decision to buy S-400 Russian missile defense system, Mattis told reporters that freedom meant that at times, nations did not agree with each other.
"That doesn't mean we can't be partners. That doesn't mean we don't respect the sovereignty of those nations. So I'm sure it will come up there, but it's right that I not speak here before I've even heard their point. So first, I want to listen to my counterpart," he said.
Trump Seeking to Replace Mattis: Reports
US President Donald Trump is seeking to replace Defence Secretary James Mattis mainly because of the sharp differences between them, PTI reported quoting a report in The Washington Post.
The report quoted an unnamed White House official as saying that speculation about a replacement was now "more real than ever" after revelations in famed investigative journalist Bob Woodward's upcoming book titled "Fear: Trump in the White House".
However, Trump, soon after publication of the report denied such a move and said Mattis is doing a fantastic job.
Defence Ministers Meet On the Sidelines of 2+2 Dialogue
United States Secretary of Defence James Mattis and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman hold meeting in Delhi.
EAM Swaraj Meets US Secretary of States Ahead of 2+2 Meet
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj hold a meeting ahead of the two-plus-two meet.
After the one-on-one meeting between the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar said that the two sides had a productive meeting and have discussed steps to take Indo-US relationship to an even higher trajectory.
Our Two Nations Are United by Values of Democracy: Pompeo
“Our two nations are united by shared values of democracy, respect for individual rights and a shared commitment to freedom. Given those values India and the United States have a natural starting point,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the 2+2 dialogue.
He also emphasised on fact that the two countries should continue to ensure freedom of the seas, skies, uphold the peaceful resolutions of the maritime disputes, promote market based economics and good governance and prevent external economic coercion.
Indo-US Dialogue Is a Concrete Manifestation of Our Leaders: Nirmala Sitharaman
In her opening remarks, Defence Minister Sitharaman said that the commencement of the first 2+2 dialogue between India and US is a manifestation of the vision of PM Modi and President Donald Trump.
Talks Will Help in Strengthening Indo-US Relations: Swaraj
In her opening remarks, Swaraj said she was confident that the outcome of the talks will help unleash the untapped potential of the relationship between the two nations and further elevate the level of engagement.
She said there has been significant progress in all key areas of cooperation between the two countries.
2+2 Dialogue: What Is the Agenda Likely to Be?
The agenda for the talks is likely to include key issues like maritime security and countering China's military expansion in the Indian Ocean. Prominently to figure in talks between the four will be Washington’s key demands for India to stop buying Iranian oil and Russian weapons.
The US Congress has passed a law allowing sanctions on countries that buy "significant" amounts of defence equipment from Russia. But India is seeking a waiver from those sanctions.
The US also wants all countries to stop buying Iranian oil by 5 November.
2+2 Dialogue: Indo-US Joint Statement
Addressing the media after the 2+2 dialogue, EAM Sushma Swaraj said, “We agreed on working together towards entry of India in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.”
Swaraj also mentioned that the H1-B visa issue was also discussed during the 2+2 talks and India has appealed to the US to keep this a high-priority issue.
Talking about Trump’s policy on Afghanistan, Swaraj also said, “We welcome President Trump's policy on Afghanistan. We are working together in the fight against terror.”
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman spoke about the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) and said that the agreement will enable India to access advanced technologies from USA.
India-US Sign COMCASA
India and the US inked a long-negotiated pact under which critical and encrypted defence technologies will be provided to the Indian military by the Americans.
The 'Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement (COMCASA)' was signed after the first two-plus-two talks External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had with US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis.
The COMCASA will facilitate India to obtain critical defence technologies from the US, and access critical communication network to ensure interoperability among the US and the Indian armed forces.
It will also allow the installation of high-security US communication equipment on defence platforms being sourced from the US, officials said.
James Mattis and Mike Pompeo Call on PM Modi
United States Secretary of Defence James Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman jointly called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the 2+2 dialogue.
According to the statement, Pompeo and Mattis briefed Modi on the fruitful and productive 2+2 dialogue held earlier in the day.
Modi congratulated both the Secretaries and their Indian counterparts, Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman, for holding of the first 2+2 dialogue.
Purchase of Russian Missiles and Crude Oil Import from Iran: What Was Discussed?
On India's oil import from Iran and its plan to buy a batch of S-400 air defence missile from Russia, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told journalists travelling with him that Washington's intention is not to "penalise great strategic partners like India."
The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on import of Iranian crude oil. It has also put restrictions on military purchase from Russia.
"The sanctions aren't intended to adversely impact countries like India. They are intended to have an impact on the sanctioned country, which is Russia," he said on India's plan to procure missiles from Russia.
During the talks, India has conveyed to the US about its reliance on the Iranian crude oil to meet the country's energy requirement to which the US side conveyed that both sides will remain engaged on the issue, sources said.
We have told the Indians consistently, as we have told every nation, that on 4 November, the sanctions with respect to Iranian crude oil will be enforced. We will consider waivers where appropriate, but that it is our expectation that the purchases of Iranian crude oil will go to zero from every country, or sanctions will be imposed.Mike Pompeo, as quoted by PTI
On procurement of S-400, sources said the US told India that it understands the decades-old Indo-Russia defence and military cooperation. "The US delegation assured India that its ties with Russia will not impact the long term Indo-US strategic cooperation," a source said.
Sources said India also explained strategic importance of New Delhi's involvement in the Chabahar port project in sanction-hit Iran to the US, particularly for trade with Afghanistan and the US concurred with the view. The ports in Iran are also coming under US sanctions.