Amidst the ongoing conflicts in Israel, Hamas, and the Russia-Ukraine war, the ongoing fifth India-US 2+2 Ministerial Level Talks in New Delhi, has been described as very crucial.
US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, both are for meetings with their Indian counterparts, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
Blinken has said that India-US defense cooperation is “a key pillar” for bolstering the partnership of the two countries in “international peace and security, and specifically, working to promote the rules-based order and uphold the principles at the heart of the UN Charter: sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence.”
“Our defense cooperation, which we’re strengthening again today, is a key pillar of that work,” Blinken said in his opening remarks at the 2+2 India-US Ministerial Dialogue that began in the national capital earlier in the day
Also in his opening remarks, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in his opening remarks that there have been “impressive gains in building our major defense partnership over the past year, and that will help us contribute even more together to the cause of peace and stability. We’re integrating our industrial bases, strengthening our interoperability, and sharing cutting-edge technology,” he added.
Blinken said the two countries were taking very concrete steps to deliver on the vision that President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi put forward at their meeting in Washington in June.
“We are promoting a free and open, prosperous, secure, and resilient Indo-Pacific, including by strengthening our partnership through the Quad, with Japan and Australia,” he explained.
Blinken went on to say that “one significant way we’re doing that is by enhancing maritime domain awareness: sharing commercial satellite data with countries in the region to boost their capacity, for example, to combat illegal fishing, piracy, drug trafficking”.
“We’re also coordinating humanitarian relief and disaster response efforts in the Indo-Pacific. We’re harnessing together the power of innovation to make our economies more resilient and to make our communities more secure, while expanding inclusive economic opportunity.
“That’s evident in the cooperation on semiconductors and advanced biotechnology; on our unprecedented investments in deploying clean energy at scale in our countries as well as across the region; and our joint research and exploration projects in space,” he added.
The top diplomat mentioned the people-to-people ties between the two countries and the steps that are being taken to reduce visa wait times and facilitate travel between India and the US.
Jaishankar held “an open and productive discussion” with visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken here on Friday on strengthening strategic New Delhi-Washington ties, the fallout of the raging Israel-Hamas war and regional issues including the geopolitical situation in the Indo-Pacific region.
The meeting took place ahead of the fifth edition of the India-US 2+2 Defence and Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue. “Pleased to meet with Secretary of State @SecBlinken this morning. An open and productive conversation on further developing our strategic partnership,” Jaishankar posted on X.
“This visit has a particular significance because we need to follow up on PM Modi’s June visit and President Biden’s September visit. This is a 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, so we take a broader view of what we are doing.”
The central focus of these talks is to address the ongoing conflicts and regional security concerns while strengthening the strategic ties between India and the United States. The agenda is expansive, encompassing the India-US Strategic Relationship, as well as exploring avenues to enhance bilateral relations and collaboration within international forums such as the QUAD (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) and I2U2.
One prominent subject for discussion is the military standoff on the northern borders between India and China. Both countries have a vested interest in resolving this standoff amicably, thereby contributing to regional stability.
Another matter of great concern is the global security implications of the Russia-Ukraine war. As members of the QUAD, a coalition dedicated to ensuring security in the Indo-Pacific region, India and the U.S. are likely to deliberate on their respective roles in the context of this global event. The ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza region may also find a place on the agenda, with a focus on containment to prevent further escalation.