India-US 2+2 Dialogue 2020
India’s Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh and Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar welcomed U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper to New Delhi for the third annual India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. The Ministers welcomed the elevation of the India-U.S. relationship to a Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership during the visit of President Donald J. Trump to India in February 2020. They reiterated their commitment to further strengthening the India-U.S. partnership, anchored in mutual trust and friendship, shared commitment to democracy, converging strategic interests, and robust engagement of their citizens.
Co-operation during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Ministers applauded the exemplary cooperation between India and the United States in confronting challenges emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. They reiterated their resolve to strengthen cooperation in the development of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, ventilators and other essential medical equipment. Recognizing that bilateral engagement in the research & development and the mass production of vaccines and therapeutics plays to our respective strengths, the Ministers sought to jointly promote access to high quality, safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines and treatments on a global scale.
Shared Vision for the Indo-Pacific and Global Leadership
The Ministers reiterated their commitment to maintaining a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific built on a rules-based international order, underpinned by ASEAN centrality, rule of law, sustainable and transparent infrastructure investment, freedom of navigation and overflight, mutual respect for sovereignty, and peaceful resolution of disputes. Highlighting the importance of securing the economic and security interests of all stakeholders having a legitimate interest in the region, the Ministers welcomed the growing understanding on the Indo-Pacific among like-minded countries. They reaffirmed that closer India-U.S. cooperation will support shared interests in promoting security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. They also emphasized that the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea should not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of any nation in accordance with international law.
The Ministers welcomed the recent convening of the Second Australia-India-Japan-United States Quadrilateral Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo on October 6, 2020.They appreciated the exchange of views on regional issues of mutual interest, as well as ongoing cooperation related to maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, regional connectivity, health security and counter terrorism. The Ministers also welcomed the fact that these Consultations would now be held annually. They expressed their support for further strengthening Quad cooperation through expanded activities, including initiating a dialogue among the development organizations of partner countries.
The Ministers expressed their support for sustainable, transparent, quality infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific region. They looked forward to furthering collaboration between USAID and India’s Development Partnership Administration (DPA) with a view to undertaking joint projects in the region. The Ministers welcomed the establishment of a permanent presence of the U.S. International Development Finance Cooperation (DFC) in India this year. The United States expressed strong support for the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) as a leading mechanism for promoting regional economic development. Recognizing the need to contain the build-up of sovereign debt in developing and low-income countries by ensuring responsible, transparent, and sustainable financing practices for both borrowers and creditors, the Ministers looked forward to exploring ways to cooperate under the Blue Dot Network. They also looked forward to the Second Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF) to be held on October 28-29, 2020.
Advancing the Defence and Security Partnership
Noting the 15th anniversary of the inaugural U.S.-India Defense Framework Agreement, the Ministers commended what has become a comprehensive, resilient, and multi-faceted Major Defense Partnership (MDP) between India and the United States. They applauded the significant step of the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA). They also welcomed enhanced maritime information sharing and maritime domain awareness between their Navies and affirmed their commitment to build upon existing defense information-sharing at the joint-service and service-to-service levels and explore potential new areas of mutually beneficial cooperation.
The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to deepening bilateral defense consultation and collaboration and to exploring opportunities to expand cooperative capacity-building efforts with partners across the region. They also affirmed their commitment to pursue increased cooperation between the Indian military and U.S. Central Command and Africa Command, including broader participation in exercises and conferences, so as to promote shared security interests. The U.S. appreciated India’s leadership in establishing an Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR). The Ministers welcomed the positioning of a Liaison Officer from the U.S. Navy at the IFC-IOR and the positioning of an Indian Liaison Officer at NAVCENT, Bahrain and reiterated their intent to assign additional Liaison Officers.
Strengthening Bilateral India-U.S. Cooperation
The Ministers welcomed efforts to rejuvenate and expand bilateral India-U.S. trade in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, they noted ongoing discussions by the Unites States Trade Representative and India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry to reach an understanding on improving market access, removing barriers to trade, and improving the business environment. The Ministers noted with satisfaction the significant strides made under the four Pillars of the Strategic Energy Partnership (SEP) covering Oil & Gas, Power and Energy Efficiency, Renewables and Sustainable Growth. They also appreciated the progress made under the India-U.S. Gas Task Force and the launch of industry-led projects. They welcomed the announcement of new priorities and roadmap for each of the Pillars during the Ministerial meeting of the SEP held on July 17, 2020. With the objective of intensifying cooperation in the area of Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPRs), the Ministers welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in this regard.