External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and US Ambassador to India Ken Juster were present during the meeting.
India and the US on Tuesday reiterated their commitment to fighting terrorism and resolved to jointly face the challenge posed by the Coronavirus pandemic. The two countries also discussed ways to further strengthen four pillars of the Strategic Energy Partnership (SEP) covering Oil & Gas, Power and Energy Efficiency, Renewable and Sustainable Growth. These issues came up for detailed discussion in the third 2+2 minister-level talks between the Defence and Foreign ministers of the two countries here. The first such high profile dialogue was held in 2018 in New Delhi while the second annual event was in Washington. The joint statement issued after the latest edition of 2+2 here said the two sides welcomed the virtual convening of the 17th meeting of the India-U.S. Counter-Terrorism Joint Working Group and the 3rd Session of the India-U.S. Designations Dialogue on September 9-10, 2020.
Both sides denounced the use of terrorism and its proxies and strongly condemned cross border terrorism in all its forms. India and US emphasised the need for concerted action against all terrorist networks, including al-Qaeda, ISIS/Daesh, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. The Ministers called on Pakistan to take an immediate, sustained and irreversible action to ensure that no territory under its control is used for terrorist attacks, and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators and planners of all such attacks, including 26/11 Mumbai, Uri, and Pathankot.
As regards co-operation during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the two delegations applauded the exemplary co-operation between India and the United States in confronting challenges emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ministers also committed to the continued exchange of information about sanctions and designations against terror groups and individuals, particularly in light of recent legislative changes in India, as well as countering the financing and operations of terrorist organizations, countering radicalism and terrorist use of the internet, cross-border movement of terrorists, and prosecuting, rehabilitating, and reintegrating returning terrorist fighters and family members. Both sides said they intend to enhance their ongoing cooperation in multilateral fora, including the UN. They also reaffirmed their support for the early adoption of a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) that will advance and strengthen the framework for global cooperation and reinforce the message that no cause or grievance justifies terrorism.
As regards co-operation during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the two delegations applauded the exemplary co-operation 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.
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. In view of the announcement made during President Donald Trump’s visit to India to establish a new India-U.S. Counter-Narcotics Working Group, the Ministers welcomed the proposal to convene the first such virtual meeting later this year, with an in-person meeting in 2021, to enhance cooperation between Indian and U.S. drug and law enforcement agencies.
Earlier in the morning in a joint press conference, India and the US came down upon China demanding that it respect the rule of law and sovereignty in obvious reference to its expansionist and aggressive behaviour. The US also assured of all help in the backdrop of the ongoing face-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh. This strong and terse message came after the extensive 2+2 dialogue between the two countries here. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar discussed the entire range of strategic issues with their respective counterparts Mark Esper and Mike Pompeo.
Criticising China, Pompeo said the Coronavirus pandemic that “came from Wuhan” has set off a “robust discussion” about the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
China figured prominently during the parleys in the backdrop of the situation at the LAC and growing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region and the South China Sea. The two visiting US dignitaries also called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval. While Rajnath and Jaishankar refrained from naming China during their statements, Pompeo was more forthcoming and blunt in blaming Beijing.
Giving details of his discussions during the 2+2 conference and bilateral meeting with Esper a day earlier, Rajnath said at the joint press conference after the dialogue that the two sides shared assessment of the security situation across the Indo Pacific. “In that process, we reaffirmed our commitment to peace, stability and prosperity of all countries in this region. We also agreed that upholding the rules-based international order, respecting the rule of law and freedom of navigation in the international seas and upholding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states are essential. Our defence co-operation is intended to further these objectives,” he said. Rajnath also said India and US also welcomed Australia joining the forthcoming Malabar Exercise.
Pompeo, however, did not mince words and said the US “stands with India to deal with any threat“. He also expressed his country’s support for India in its efforts to “defend its sovereignty”. Sharing the dais with the Indian ministers during the press interaction, the visiting US Secretary of State said “We visited the National War Memorial to honour brave men and women of Indian armed forces who sacrificed for the world’s largest democracy, including 20 killed by PLA in Galwan Valley. The US will stand with India as they confront threats to their sovereignty, liberty.”
Criticising China, Pompeo said the Coronavirus pandemic that “came from Wuhan” has set off a “robust discussion” about the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). “Our leaders and our citizens see with increasing clarity that the Chinese Communist Party is no friend to democracy, the rule of law, transparency nor the freedom of navigation, the foundation of a free and open and prosperous Indo-Pacific. I’m glad to say India and the US are taking all steps to strengthen co-operation against all threats and not just those posed by the CCP,” he added.
The visiting dignitary also said the US and India are strengthening co-operation against “all manner of threats and not just those posed by the Chinese Communist Party. Last year, we’ve expanded our cooperation on cyber issues, our navies have held joint exercises in the Indian ocean,” Pompeo added. Highlighting the growing ties between the two countries, Pompeo said the “US values India as a multilateral partner, whether it’s through the Quad, making Afghan peace negotiation successful or working together during India’s upcoming term on UN Security Council (UNSC), we continue to support India’s permanent membership of UNSC.”
Later US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and conveyed the American government’s continued interest in building stronger relations with India as well as discussed several issues of regional and global concern. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and US Ambassador to India Ken Juster were also present during the meeting.
In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said the US Secretaries conveyed greetings from President Donald Trump to the prime minister. Recalling the successful visit of President Trump to India in February 2020, Prime Minister Modi warmly reciprocated the greetings, the statement said.