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India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue Set to Strengthen Bilateral Partnership

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The upcoming 2+2 ministerial dialogue between India and the United States, scheduled to take place in New Delhi this week, holds the promise of further deepening the strong partnership between the two nations, with a particular focus on defense cooperation, according to an expert.

In a complex and ever-changing global landscape, this dialogue provides an essential platform for reaffirming the unwavering commitment of both countries to their global partnership and their shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific. Farwa Aamer, Director of South Asia Initiatives at the Asia Society Policy Institute, emphasized the significance of this dialogue.

The forthcoming fifth U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue will bring together high-ranking officials from both nations, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh. This meeting is expected to build upon the remarkable progress achieved in various areas of cooperation, particularly in defense.

According to Aamer, this dialogue occurs at a critical juncture, with the ongoing Ukraine crisis and the Israel-Hamas conflict influencing the global strategic landscape. While these conflicts may not have a direct link to the U.S.-India relationship, they do have an impact on the strategic dynamics and global perspectives of both nations. Therefore, discussions during the 2+2 dialogue may touch upon these crises as they test the reformed international order that the U.S. and India advocate for.

In the case of the Israel-Hamas conflict, India’s alignment with the Quad nations demonstrates its deepening engagement with like-minded partners to address pressing international challenges. Additionally, the U.S. may emphasize the importance of India’s cooperation with the Canadian probe, stressing the need to adhere to international conventions. While such diplomatic challenges may arise, they serve as a reminder that specific differences won’t hinder the overall momentum of bilateral ties.

Beyond addressing these challenges, the dialogue aims to broaden the scope of cooperation across various domains, extending beyond defense to encompass climate action, energy, health, counterterrorism, education, and people-to-people connections. In the defense sector, the current focus is on technology transfer and co-production, highlighting the importance of innovation in enhancing military capabilities. The Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) and the promotion of innovation through the India-U.S. Defense Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X) are expected to be key topics on the agenda.

The need to escalate climate action before COP28 is another crucial aspect of the dialogue, with India’s call for developed nations to achieve carbon negativity by 2050 underscoring the shared responsibility in addressing climate change.

Furthermore, insights gathered during the 2+2 dialogue with India can inform the U.S. delegation’s future engagements in Korea and Indonesia. Shared priorities and agreements reached with India can be leveraged to strengthen bilateral relations with these significant regional partners.

Aamer pointed out that it will be interesting to observe any discussions related to the upcoming APEC summit and next year’s general elections in both India and the United States. The potential meeting between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the APEC summit holds significance for U.S.-India relations and could shape the U.S. approach to China. Given the evolving dynamics in the Indo-Pacific, strained India-China relations, and the broader international landscape, India’s perspective on these developments is essential.

In conclusion, the 2+2 ministerial dialogue represents a critical opportunity for India and the U.S. to reinforce their strategic partnership and address a wide range of challenges and opportunities on the global stage.

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