Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister (EAM) Dr S Jaishankar met US Secretary of Defense Dr Mark T Esper and Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo in Washington DC, US on December 18, 2019 for the second annual India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. This 2+2 Ministerial is the highest-level institutional mechanism between the two countries and provides for a review of the security, defence and strategic partnership between India and the United States. This was the second 2+2 meeting and the first in the US.
The growing partnership between India and the United States was appraised since the inaugural 2+2 dialogue in New Delhi in 2018. Both sides reiterated their commitment to advancing a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region and the shared leadership in the Indo-Pacific region.
U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper welcomed India’s Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh and Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar to Washington, D.C. for the second annual India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. The four Ministers positively appraised the growing partnership between India and the United States, grounded in mutual trust and friendship, democratic values, people-to-people ties, and a common commitment to the prosperity of their citizens. The Ministers noted that the deepening strategic partnership between India and the United States is rooted in shared values of freedom, justice, human rights and commitment to the rule of law. They resolved to work together in the 2+2 framework as a whole-of-government effort to realize the full potential of the India-U.S. strategic global partnership, guided by the shared vision of Prime Minister Modi and President Trump. They intend to maintain regular communication on emerging developments through the newly established secure communication lines between the Foreign and Defence Ministers of the two countries.
A Global Partnership for Principles, Peace, and Prosperity
The Ministers reiterated their commitment to a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. Appreciating the convergence in their respective Indo-Pacific visions, they reiterated their support for ASEAN centrality, rule of law, freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful resolution of disputes, and sustainable and transparent infrastructure investment. They reaffirmed that closer India-U.S. cooperation is instrumental to promoting security and prosperity in the broader Indo-Pacific region and beyond.
The Ministers reaffirmed their shared vision for greater connectivity in South Asia and the Indo-Pacific and noted the progress of ongoing initiatives being undertaken by India and by the United States for the development of infrastructure and connectivity in the region.
The Ministers welcomed the enhanced diplomatic consultation and coordination between India and the United States, bilaterally, with other partners and in regional and international fora to sustain and enrich the international rules-based order. In this context, the United States reaffirmed its strong support for India’s permanent role in a reformed U.N. Security Council and for India’s early entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
The Ministers valued the recent India-U.S.-Japan trilateral summit meetings and welcomed the India-U.S.-Australia-Japan Quadrilateral Ministerial meeting in September 2019, as means to promote practical cooperation in infrastructure development, cyber security, counterterrorism, and regional connectivity.
Reiterating their shared interest in strengthening UN peacekeeping, the Ministers intend to collectively work for capacity-building of peacekeepers from Indo-Pacific countries that would follow the successful India-U.S. training program for African peacekeepers.
In view of the importance of greater regional and global collaboration to reduce risks from natural disasters, the Ministers welcomed the United States joining the recently created Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. In this regard, they also welcomed ongoing technical cooperation, including with the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
The Ministers appreciated Prime Minister Modi’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative and noted their nation’s shared interest in collaborative efforts to secure an open, inclusive and free maritime domain, as well as the health of the oceans. They recommended building on the India-U.S. Oceans Dialogue to advance shared oceanic priorities, including combating pollution, fisheries enforcement, scientific exploration, and species documentation in the Indian Ocean.
The Ministers conveyed their shared interest in a peaceful, secure, stable, united, democratic, inclusive and sovereign Afghanistan. They expressed support for Afghan-led and-owned negotiations that culminate in a sustainable peace, cessation of terrorist violence and preservation of the gains of the last 18 years. They applauded India’s efforts to build trade linkages and multi-modal connectivity infrastructure for Afghanistan to enhance its regional connectivity to sustain growth and development over the long term.
The Ministers supported freedom of navigation and uninterrupted maritime trade in the Strait of Hormuz, and reaffirmed the importance of ensuring peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, including through North Korea’s dismantlement of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles in accordance with relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Building an Enduring Defense and Counterterrorism Partnership
The Ministers committed to a common vision for the India-U.S. Major Defense Partnership (MDP) that recognizes their countries’ shared desire to build a comprehensive, enduring, and mutually-beneficial defense partnership and to expand all aspects of their security and defense cooperation. Consistent with this vision for MDP, the Ministers seek to expand military-to-military cooperation and improve the defense and security partnership in the coming year.
In this context, the Ministers welcomed the growing and increasingly sophisticated cooperation between their two Navies. In particular, the Ministers noted the continued high level of operational interaction achieved in the MALABAR naval exercise. The two sides also applauded the establishment of the new tri-service, amphibious exercise – TIGER TRIUMPH – as a tangible demonstration of the growing scope and complexity of military cooperation. The Ministers decided to hold TIGER TRIUMPH annually, in formats to be decided mutually. The Ministers committed to enhanced cooperation between the Indian Navy and the U.S. Navy Fleets under U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Central Command, and Africa Command and intend to expand similar cooperation between their respective Armies and Air Forces.
In support of shared interests in enhancing maritime security and naval cooperation, and building on the success of the fourth India-U.S. Maritime Security Dialogue, the Ministers welcomed the assignment of an Indian officer to liaison with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in the near future and noted their intent to explore further military liaison relationships. The United States applauded India’s leadership in establishing an Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR), and decided to explore placement of a U.S. liaison officer at the Centre to advance cooperation on maritime security across the region.
The Ministers recognized the importance of maritime cooperation, including with other partner countries in the Indo-Pacific. In this regard, the United States welcomed India’s invitation to join the 2020 MILAN multilateral naval exercise and plans to participate.
Building on the success of India-U.S. naval cooperation, the Ministers emphasized the importance of enhancing other areas of military-to-military cooperation. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen joint and service-to-service interaction and cooperation. They discussed ways to enable closer Army-to-Army and Air Force-to-Air Force ties and to explore cooperation between Special Operations Forces. They also noted that the senior-most military dialogue, the Military Cooperation Group, should review military cooperation on an annual basis and plan forward-looking cooperative activities. The Ministers affirmed their commitment to enable defense information-sharing at the joint and service-to-service levels. The Ministers noted their respective commitment to supporting capacity building efforts in the Indo-Pacific.
The Ministers also emphasized the importance of defense enabling agreements, which allow Indian and the U.S. militaries and defense industries to expand cooperation in key areas. The Ministers noted rapid progress to implement the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), which has already enabled valuable cooperation. They called for the quick installation of secure communication capabilities between the Armed Forces, including the Armies and Air Forces. Both sides noted that continued COMCASA implementation would further enable growing military cooperation. They also decided to continue the discussion on the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) in 2020 to enable greater geospatial information-sharing.
The Ministers welcomed the signing of the Industrial Security Annex (ISA) which will facilitate the exchange of classified military information between Indian and the U.S. defense industries. Both sides also expressed intent to meet in 2020 to discuss ISA implementation. The Ministers welcomed growing India-U.S. defense trade, the shared commitment to defense innovation cooperation between their respective agencies, and India’s increased contributions to the global defense supply chain. The Ministers were pleased to announce important progress under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), including the finalization of a Statement of Intent to co-develop several projects. The Ministers welcomed the finalization of the Standard Operating Procedure for setting forth implementation guidelines for projects under DTTI and the Industry-to-Industry Framework, which will establish a standing mechanism for dialogue between Indian and U.S. defense companies and their governments on defense technology and industrial cooperation.
The Ministers noted their intent to explore collaboration on testing and certification in defence and aerospace sectors and establishment of Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facilities in India. Both sides note that the development of Defence Industry corridors in India offers opportunities for defence industrial cooperation.
Condemning terrorism in all its forms, the Ministers called for concerted action against all terrorist networks, including al-Qa’ida, ISIS/Daesh, Lashkar e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Haqqani Network, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, TTP and D-Company. The Ministers called on Pakistan to take immediate, sustained and irreversible action to ensure that no territory under its control is used for terrorism against other countries in any manner, and to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of cross-border terrorist attacks, including 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot. India appreciated U.S. support at the United Nations for terrorist designations, including of JeM leader Masood Azhar, and the United States welcomed changes in Indian law that will facilitate further cooperation on terrorism designations.
Taking note of the judicial cooperation on terrorism cases between the National Judicial Academy in Bhopal, India and the U.S. Federal Judicial Center, the Ministers intend to facilitate further cooperation between them in new areas and through joint judicial workshops for third-country partners. To strengthen security cooperation on international supply chain and cargo security, the Ministers looked forward to an early finalization of a Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) between their Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) programs.
Recognizing the serious threats posed by malicious cyber actors, and recalling the successful recent meetings of the India-U.S. Cyber Dialogue and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Working Group, the Ministers reaffirmed the importance of cyber security cooperation, promoting responsible state behavior in cyberspace, and supporting open and transparent platforms and technologies that will safeguard privacy and sovereignty as per domestic legal framework, particularly in emerging ICT technologies including 5G networks. Both sides also expressed intent to initiate discussions on cyber defense issues in the coming year.
Economy, Energy, Environment and Mutual Prosperity
The Ministers applauded the record levels of trade between India and the United States and welcomed discussions by India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the United States Trade Representative to reach an understanding on various bilateral trade issues raised by the two sides to facilitate trade, improve market access and address issues of interest to both sides. The Ministers looked forward to the swift conclusion of discussions that will advance their shared objective to support prosperity and job creation in both countries and foster greater investment and innovation in their economies.
Welcoming enhanced energy and resource cooperation between two of the world’s largest energy users, the Ministers emphasized the importance of building on the India-U.S. Strategic Energy Partnership to modernize power grids in support of India’s goal to provide reliable and affordable energy to its population; develop greater integration of modern energy sources into India’s power systems; and increase the focus on energy efficiency and combatting air pollution. They emphasized knowledge exchange for reform in electricity distribution as well as the recently launched Flexible Resources Initiative under the U.S.-India Clean Energy Finance Task Force.
The Ministers applauded growing exports of U.S. LNG, crude oil, and other energy products to India, totaling $6.7 billion to date. They look forward to greater investments in each country’s energy sector, including in oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) sectors and in development of gas infrastructure.
The Ministers welcomed the Memorandum of Understanding signed between India’s Ministry of Jal Shakti and the U.S. Geological Survey to promote technical cooperation in areas such as water quality and management.
Recalling the historic India-U.S. civil nuclear deal, the Ministers welcomed continued progress by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited and Westinghouse Electric Company toward a techno-commercial offer for the construction of six nuclear reactors.
Noting the excellent cooperation between India and the United States in civil aviation, the Ministers appreciated efforts towards establishment of standard operating procedures to allow U.S. carriers to conduct ground handling operations under the India-U.S. Air Transport Agreement. The Ministers also expressed hope for an early completion of a new Civil Aviation Memorandum of Agreement between the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
Shared Leadership in Science and Space
The Ministers welcomed the conclusion of a new Science and Technology (S&T) Agreement, which will further strengthen collaboration on science and technology, particle research, and innovation.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and the founding of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Ministers recognized space cooperation, including on Earth science and lunar exploration, as a unique facet of the India-U.S. partnership. They applauded the close collaboration between their space agencies to launch the jointly developed NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) satellite in 2022.
The Ministers welcomed growing cooperation through the biennial India-U.S. Civil Space Joint Working Group that spans cutting-edge Earth observation capabilities to interplanetary exploration and supported new opportunities for collaboration, including in the areas of human space flight and exploration. The Ministers also welcomed the sharing of bilateral Space Situational Awareness information, which will catalyze efforts to create the conditions for a safe, stable, and sustainable space environment. Both sides expressed intent to discuss areas of potential space defense cooperation in the next year.
Building Bonds Between Our Citizens
The Ministers recognized the unique and enduring foundation that people-to-people ties, including the presence of a four million strong Indian-American diaspora in the United States, have created for the India-U.S. partnership.
The Ministers welcomed the recent growth in the number of Indian students in the United States to over 200,000, and acknowledged the role of expanding university research partnerships in fostering mutual understanding, entrepreneurship and scientific innovation. In this context, they commended the enduring success of the Fulbright-Nehru Program, which will celebrate its 70th anniversary in India in 2020. The Ministers expressed intent for establishment of a bilateral India-U.S. Young Innovators Initiative, which will support internship opportunities for emerging young leaders in key areas of scientific and economic endeavor.
Applauding the entrepreneurial spirit of Indians and Indian-Americans that has benefited both nations, the Ministers noted the important role of people-to-people linkages in strengthening economic ties. Both sides look forward to the upcoming India-U.S. Consular Dialogue to further increase cooperation and discuss issues of mutual concern, including visas and familial issues related to marriage, adoption and child custody.
Reflecting the widespread popular and political support in both countries for a robust India-U.S. partnership, the Ministers looked forward to the establishment of India-U.S. Parliamentary Exchange to facilitate reciprocal visits by Parliamentarians of the two countries.
Secretaries Pompeo and Esper expressed appreciation to the Government of India for its continuing support to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) as it works to repatriate the remains of U.S. service members missing from World War II.
For the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the United States joins India in celebrating his life and message, which has inspired generations of Indians and Americans.
India looks forward to hosting the next 2+2 Ministerial in 2020. (MEA)