2+2 starts off looking on difference India, US can make

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“What India and the US do together will make a difference”, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishnkar has said at the start of the 2+2 Dialogue between the two countries laying out th meeting’s broad agenda.

The sentiment was echoed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, the other participants in Monday’s 2+2 meeting of the defence and diplomatic leaders.

Jaishankar said that their discussions of contemporary developments will include Ukraine, Afghanistan, the Gulf and the subcontinent.

There will be a significant focus on the Indo-Pacific, where “we have seen particularly over the last year, both an elevation and an intensification of the Quad” he said referring to the four-member group of India, the US, Australia and Japan.

Austin, who said that “the Indian partnership is a critical building block and a more resilient regional security architecture”, spoke of standing up to China as it tries to refashion the regional and international system to serve its “authoritarian interest.”

“Today we are positioning the US and Indian militaries to operate and coordinate closely together across all domains, and increasingly across the wider Indo-Pacific all in support of a rule of law, freedom of the seas, and regional peace and security”, he said.

“And now more than ever, democracies must stand together to defend and preserve our values”, he said.

He said that they will be discussing “a range of bilateral defence priorities including deeper information sharing and industrial cooperation. All this will help to ensure that our militaries are ready to meet any challenge”.

Singh said, “Our Major Defense Partnership is one of the most important pillars of India’s strategic relations as the largest country and central in Indian Ocean”.

“As a democracy. India has a critical role to play in the Indian Ocean region and in the wider Indo-Pacific to the east and the neighbourhood”, he said.

He added, “We are working with us to develop capabilities across conventional and emerging defence domains. We have made good progress in a number of defence cooperation activities”.

Given the crippling dependence on Russia for India’s defence needs, Singh invited US defence manufacturers to invest in India and support the “Make in India” programme.

He said that US defence purchases from the US have grown “from negligible way to in the latest round to over $20 billion”.

Blinken said that they would also discuss strengthening cooperation on counter-terrorism.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in and followed @arulouis)

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