COVID-19, Defence & China: What India-US Discussed in 2+2 Talks

The Quint
·5-min read

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper in New Delhi for the third annual India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue on Tuesday, 27 October.

Among other things the leaders from both countries discussed the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Indo-Pacific, China, Pakistan, Defence and Security Partnership, India-US Cooperation and People to People Bonds.

A joint statement, shared by the Ministry of External Affairs, following the dialogue read:

"“They reiterated their commitment to further strengthening the India-US partnership, anchored in mutual trust and friendship, shared commitment to democracy, converging strategic interests, and robust engagement of their citizens.”"

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On COVID-19 "“The Ministers applauded the exemplary cooperation 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.”   " - Joint Statement, Shared by MEA  

According to the Joint Statement, the two countries were also looking forward to signing the Memorandum of Understanding between the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID/NIH) to collaborate through an International Center of Excellence in Research focused on infectious diseases including COVID-19 and other emerging threats.

An upcoming call for applications for clinical research fellowships was also reportedly “welcomed”.

"“The Ministers reaffirmed efforts to enhance supply chain resilience and to seek alternatives to the current paradigm, which had come under severe strain during the pandemic and exposed critical vulnerabilities. The Ministers sought to support the global economic recovery, including in India and the United States, to emerge from the pandemic more resilient than ever.”   " - Joint Statement, Shared by MEA  

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On China

The two countries reportedly also discussed their commitment to maintain “a free and open Indo-Pacific region”.

According to IANS, this is “in a direct challenge to China's expansionist moves in the South China Sea.”

"“The ministers reiterated their commitment to maintaining a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific built on a rules-based international order, underpinned by ASEAN centrality, rule of law, sustainable and transparent infrastructure investment, freedom of navigation and overflight, mutual respect for sovereignty, and peaceful resolution of disputes.”   " - Joint Statement, Shared by MEA   

"The code of conduct in the South China Sea should not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of any nation in accordance with international law,” the joint-statement further read.

On Defence and Security Partnership

The two countries, according to the joint statement, commended “what has become a comprehensive, resilient, and multi-faceted Major Defense Partnership (MDP) between India and the United States.”

"“The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to deepening bilateral defense consultation and collaboration and to exploring opportunities to expand cooperative capacity-building efforts with partners across the region. They also affirmed their commitment to pursue increased cooperation between the Indian military and US Central Command and Africa Command, including broader participation in exercises and conferences, so as to promote shared security interests…The Ministers welcomed the positioning of a Liaison Officer from the US Navy at the IFC-IOR and the positioning of an Indian Liaison Officer at NAVCENT, Bahrain and reiterated their intent to assign additional Liaison Officers.”   " - Joint Statement, Shared by MEA  

Further, according to the MEA statement, the two parties are reportedly satisfied with the ongoing progress in the implementation of Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), “including the expansion of secure communications capabilities to include secure video teleconference capabilities between their respective Navies, Armies and Air Forces as well as between respective Foreign and Defence Ministries.”

India and US, according to the statement, decided to work together for the development of their respective defence industries.

On India-US Cooperation

According to the joint statement:

"“The Ministers called on Pakistan to take 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.”     "

Further, the two countries decided to confine the 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 organisations, countering radicalism and terrorist use of the internet, cross-border movement of terrorists, and prosecuting, rehabilitating, and reintegrating returning terrorist fighters and family members.”

"“The Ministers also welcomed the recent convening of the annual India-US Cyber Dialogue on 15 September 2020 and the first India-US Defence Cyber Dialogue on 17 September 2020.”   " - Joint Statement, Shared by MEA  

(With inputs from IANS, MEA Statement)

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