US-India 2+2 Dialogue postponed as Putin-Trump meet takes centre stage

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New Delhi, June 28 (IANS) The first India-US strategic 2+2 Dialogue scheduled to be held in Washington on July 6 has been postponed, possibly due to the upcoming summit between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that might happen around mid-July, requiring the full attention of the American administration.

The July 6, 2+2 Dialogue involving External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and their US counterparts Mike Pompeo and James Mattis would be too close to the likely summit date, that can be scheduled immediately before or after the NATO summit in Brussels on July 11 and 12, and Trump’s British visit, July 13-16.

The news came even as US Permanent Representative to the UN Nikki Haley met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj here on Wednesday.

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External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted that US Secretary of State Pompeo spoke to Sushma Swaraj “to express his regret and deep disappointment at the US having to postpone the 2+2 Dialogue for unavoidable reasons”.

According to him, Pompeo sought Sushma Swaraj’s understanding “and they agreed to identify new mutually convenient dates to hold the Dialogue at the earliest, in India or the US”.

The 2+2 Dialogue format was agreed to between the two sides during Modi’s visit to Washington in June 2017 when he met Trump for the first time.

Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James Mattis were supposed to host the Indian ministers at the meeting that was to focus on strengthening strategic, security, and defence cooperation with both countries confronting global challenges.

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The dialogue was being looked at as a centrepiece of the growing ties between India and the US which Washington wants to scale up by extending the strategic vision from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean.

During his meeting on Wednesday with Haley, Modi voiced his appreciation for Trump’s policies on South Asia and the Indo-Pacific region.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, Haley, the first person of Indian descent to hold a cabinet-level position in the US, noted the deepening relations between India and the US particularly in strategic and defence sectors.

–IANS

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