On the eve of the Festival of Lights, India and US commit themselves to multiple partnerships ranging from trade, investment, technology, defense and supply chain resilience. These commitments may light up the path of India-US relations
In a sign of growing relations between India and the US, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar along with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken met for the US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue which got underway here just two days ahead of Diwali, the festival of lights.
The India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue is a diplomatic summit held every year since 2018, with the Minister of External Affairs and the defense minister representing India while the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense represent the United States.
Earlier, Antony Blinken met Jaishankar and described the India-US partnership between the two countries as the “strongest ever.” “It is always wonderful to be here in India. We are building a remarkable year of engagement…We have not only the strongest bilateral partnership we’ve ever had, but also a regional one, and indeed, a global one that was further evidenced by India’s leadership for the G20 this year,” Blinken said.
“We have a lot to do, including with our defense colleagues. I think it’s further evidence of our resolute focus for the United States on the Indo-Pacific, our region for the future; the future is actually now, and we’re building it together with India…,” he added.
S Jaishankar welcomed US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and said that this visit (of Secretary Blinken) has a particular significance as a follow-up would be done on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s June visit and President Biden’s September visit.
“So, Secretary Antony Blinken, let me welcome you, this is your third visit this year…This visit (of Secretary Blinken) has particular significance because we need to follow up on Prime Minister Narendra 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 External Affairs Minister said.
This year’s dialogue is more important than the others as multiple partnerships ranging from trade, investment, technology and supply chain resilience were discussed in the India-US 2+2 Dialogue and the meetings were indicative of enduring commitment of India-US bilateral partnership.
India Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said on Friday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the US and President Joe Biden’s visit to India during the G20 Summit has given a strong leadership driven momentum to further bolster this relationship between the two countries.
Addressing the special briefing after the fifth 2+2 Dialogue, Vinay Kwatra said, “We have just now concluded a very rewarding and substantive, the fifth edition of 2+2 dialogue between India and the US. The meetings today and the atmosphere surrounding the meeting were all indicative of the enduring commitment of the bilateral partnership, particularly importantly our desire to work together to expand this partnership further and to deepen it more”.
He further highlighted about the intensity of diplomatic engagement between India and the United States especially this year. “We have had two very high heads of the state visit; Prime Minister Modi had a historic visit to the US in June this year. And more recently, we had the honor of welcoming President Biden on a successful visit to India on the occasion of G20 Summit,” Kwatra said.
The India-US 2+2 Dialogue holds “great significance” against the backdrop of a “volatile” global scenario, said Defense Secretary, Giridhar Aramane, while emphasizing the critical role of the meeting in exploring avenues for “upholding international law” and providing “humanitarian assistance”.
He also said that the India-US partnership is of utmost importance to peace and stability in the immediate neighborhood, but also to the connected regions.
The India-US defense cooperation has become a “rock solid support” to the bilateral relations between the two countries, Aramane added.
At the dialogue, Austin said the India-US Defense partnership has made tremendous forward strides in the past year, including the US-India Defense Industrial Cooperation Roadmap.
The Defense Secretary of India, while addressing a media briefing following the dialogue, underscored the “potential collaboration” in emerging domains for civilian commercial use as well as for strategic use, which was also a topic of common interest.
“In essence, the defense cooperation has become a rock-solid support for the bilateral relations between the two countries. The potential collaboration in emerging domains for the civilian commercial… How the defense industries can intersect each other’s interests and promote each other in this particular context of strong bilateral ties was also a matter of great focus,” he said.
“This 2+2 is a continuation of the important steps taken during that visit…Especially in the regional and global scenario, when the situation is very volatile, the visit of the dignitaries from the US is of great significance. It affords an opportunity to review the security and see how the upholding of international law and humanitarian assistance can be looked at very closely and in a mutually comfortable fashion,” stated Defense Secretary Aramane.
He also recalled PM Modi’s visit to US in June earlier this year, which led to new initiatives between the two countries and called the 2+2 dialogue, a “continuation of important steps” taken during that visit.
During the dialogue, EAM Jaishankar also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the US had opened a new chapter in the India-US relationship.
“The highlight this year was the PM’s state visit to the United States in June; it has opened a new chapter in our relationship. President Biden’s visit to Delhi in September contributed immensely to the positive trajectory of our ties. His support was key to ensuring productive outcomes at the G20 summit. 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,” Jaishankar said at the 2+2 dialogue.
The Defense Secretary also said that the investor meeting between the US and India held on Thursday held a “very deep dialogue”.
“The innovative ecosystem had a very deep dialogue. The investors and the innovators had heart-to-heart talks. Under the direction of the DIU from the US and the DiO of the Ministry of Defense India, this partnership will give the necessary dynamism for Indian industry, enabling them to become parts of the global supply chain,” he said, addressing the media.
US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, on Friday said the India-US Defense partnership has made tremendous forward strides in the past year, including the US-India Defense Industrial Cooperation Roadmap.
In his remarks at the bilateral with his Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh, Austin said, “We made a tremendous stride forward in our defense partnership over this past year, including the US-India Defense Industrial Cooperation Roadmap, and we concluded that roadmap during my visit in June. In just 5 short months, we’ve made significant progress on that roadmap, and our operational cooperation is also moving from strength to strength.”
“Our militaries are conducting increasingly complex exercises and building greater interoperability across all domains. I look forward to discussing all these topics today as we take stock of our accomplishments. I’m glad that we will also discuss new ways to further strengthen the major defense partnership,” Austin added.
Earlier in the day, the US Secretary of Defense noted that India and Washington, have over the past year made “impressive gains” in building a defense partnership.
He called it “important” that India and US exchange views, find common goals and deliver for the people of the two nations in the face of the urgent global challenges.
In his opening remarks at the India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, Austin said, “We are meeting at a time of great momentum. The US and India partnership in the face of urgent global challenges, it’s more important than ever that the world’s two largest democracies exchange views, find common goals, and deliver for our people. We’ve made 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.”
Austin stated that the scope of India-US cooperation is vast, adding that the strength of the US-India partnership is rooted in the people-to-people ties, which he stressed is the heart of the friendship between the two nations.
The 2+2 dialogue has emerged as a platform for top-level discussions between the US and India, addressing critical bilateral and global matters, with special emphasis on developments unfolding in the Indo-Pacific region.
In 2024, both India and US will have elections and new governments but the bilateral relations between the two countries are on a trajectory that is unlikely to change.