Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, 2nd from right, and Secretary of Defence Mark Esper, right, accompanied by Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar, second from left, and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, left, during a news conference after a meeting at the Department of State in Washington on Wednesday. (AP/PTI)
By Lalit K Jha :
INDIA and the US have agreed to deepen their bilateral cooperation in areas of defence, counterterrorism and trade, and to work with like-minded countries for a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The decisions were taken as the second India-US 2+2 dialogue concluded here. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo along with Defense Secretary Mark Esper hosted their Indian counterparts External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh for the dialogue at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.
The first 2+2 dialogue was held in New Delhi in September last year after the mechanism was approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump. In the second such dialogue, India and the US agreed to further expand their defence ties. Singh told reporters here that strong defence ties were an integral component of the strategic bilateral partnership. “In the last few years, we have made a conscious decision to diversify and indigenise our arms acquisitions. This increased defence trade with the US is one important aspect of this,” he said. “We are also working to encourage greater collaboration between defence manufacturing sectors in India in the US. The conclusion of the industrial security annex with the US will provide the necessary framework for pursuing the co-development and co-production linkages in the defence manufacturing centre,” Singh said. Cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan featured during the 2+2 ministerial talks. Singh said that India shared its assessments of the situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Indian Ocean region in general.
“We conveyed that the extreme rhetoric and belligerent statements and incitement to anti-Indian violence by Pakistani leaders is not conducive to peace,” he said. Secretary Pompeo, during a joint news conference in the presence of the other three leaders, spoke about cross-border terrorism from Pakistan. “We understand the concerns that India has, rightful concerns that they have about terrorism emanating from Pakistan, and we assured them that we would take that into account,” he said. “We are determined to protect the American people on the threat of terrorism, and we’re determined to work with our great democratic friends like the Indians to protect the people of India as well.
And we’ll continue to work on it,” Pompeo said. External Affairs Minister Jaishankar said counterterrorism efforts have been boosted by a growing consensus on the nature of terror threats in the region and the dangers of cross-border terrorism and sanctuaries. “We discussed ways to address these challenges, including by working closely together at the FATF. We also took note of exchanges between our judicial academies for appreciation of challenges and evolving practices and adjudicating counter-terrorism cases and agreed to further facilitate such exchanges in areas of criminal jurisprudence,” Jaishankar said. “This is an area where the two countries actually have a very strong history of cooperating.
I can only say this in terms of public record, that I am very satisfied with the discussions we’ve had today,” Jaishankar said. Pitching strongly for H-1B visa holders, Jaishankar reiterated the significant contribution made by movement of persons in a fair and non-discriminatory manner to the deepening of bilateral ties between India and the US. “Trade and services, including the movement of persons in a fair and non-discriminate discriminatory manner has contributed significantly to the deepening of ties,” Jaishankar said. He also praised Pompeo for reiterating the US Governments support to the Chhabahar project, which he said will immensely benefit Afghanistan.