2+2 ministerial dialogue to focus on four themes including regional security cooperation, defence trade

The upcoming India-US 2+2 ministerial dialogue will focus on four themes — regional security cooperation, defence information sharing, military-to-military interactions and defence trade, said the US State Department on Friday (local time).

Speaking at a press conference, the department said that the 2+2 ministerial meeting will lay down next steps for the US-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership.

“First, regional security cooperation; second, defence information sharing; third, military-to-military interactions; and fourth, defence trade,” one of the administration officials told reporters while informing about the themes that will be discussed in the 2+2 ministerial meeting.

“Regional security cooperation is that we’re working to enhance maritime security across the Indian Ocean region by coordinating security cooperation and building partner capacity with regional countries,” one of the officials said.

Speaking on the second theme, the official said: “We have made significant progress towards concluding the last foundational defence enabling agreement, the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement, or the BECA. This agreement will allow for expanded geospatial information sharing between our armed forces. We are also seeking to expand secure communication capabilities between our respective militaries as well as between our foreign and defence ministries, and that too figures prominently on what we are trying to accomplish in the information-sharing space.”

As per the US State Department, with respect to military-to-military engagement, both India and the US are working to build greater interoperability by increasing the sophistication of their combined exercises.

“Over the past year, we have placed a US liaison officer at the Information Fusion Center-Indian Ocean Region. That is India’s maritime domain awareness fusion centre that they host. And an Indian liaison was placed at US Central Command, which both of these have enhanced coordination and information sharing between our navies. We also hope to confirm two additional Indian liaison officer placements in the near term to expand counterterrorism cooperation,” the official further said.

“We are also looking to increase mil-to-mil cooperation in emerging technologies. We held an inaugural Defense Cyber Dialogue in September, this last September, and are looking – we are looking to have a defence space dialogue in the coming year, most likely in early 2021,” the official added.

Stressing on the defence trade, it said the US is seeking to advance sales for several other defence platforms, to include fighter aircraft and UAVs.

US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo and Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper will have a packed schedule during their India visit.

They will participate in third India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue along with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on October 27 and will also have bilateral meetings with their counterparts.

They will also be meeting NSA Ajit Doval and will jointly call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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