First ever ‘2+2 dialogue’ between US and India on September 6

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The first US-India ‘2+2 dialogue’ will be held on September 6 in New Delhi, confirmed by the US State Department. “The United States is pleased to announce that the inaugural US-India ‘2+2 dialogue’ will be held in New Delhi, India, on September 6,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement.

The announcement of the ‘2+2 dialogue’ comes amidst prospects of India being imposed with unintended sanctions that are targeted at Iran and Russia.

Pompeo and Mattis look forward to meeting with their Indian counterparts, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman, to discuss strengthening strategic, security and defense cooperation as the US and India jointly address challenges in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

The dialogue was announced last year during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House. After June last year, the two countries have tried to schedule the dialogue many times with several dates having been considered. Last month, the US postponed the dialogue scheduled to be held in Washington due to “unavoidable reasons”.

Meanwhile, a senior State Department official told reporters that the co-operation among quad countries – the US, Japan, India and Australia – would come up in the next week’s US-Australia Ministerial Consultations in Palo Alto. “We believe it’s a constructive way for like-minded nations in the region to have a chance to share views and to coordinate to the extent possible to ensure that we reach our mutual objectives in the region, the official said.

The unfortunate reality is that India has been caught in the crossfire of the Trump administration’s secondary sanctions against both Russia and Iran. Although this is undoubtedly a serious challenge in the bilateral relationship, it is not insurmountable. Both sides will have to focus their efforts in finding a solution that preserves both their respective interests. In the past, the US recognized the central role Iranian crude oil plays in India’s energy security. 

The challenge facing the US-India bilateral relations now is not new. Mechanisms are already in place to begin addressing it in a way that doesn’t undermine the integrity of the strategic partnership. India wants the US to recognize that its purchase of the S-400 air defense system from Russia is a legacy decision that predates the enactment of Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions ACT (CAATSA).

US-India defense trade is rapidly expanding, and it would be a tragedy for that burgeoning relationship to be compromised by the CAATSA decision. Ultimately, the US and India are partners, partners who have effectively overcome far more formidable challenges in the past.