External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his American counterpart Mike Pompeo have spoken over phone and discussed the bilateral and multilateral cooperation on issues of international concern, including efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and the Indo-Pacific region, a senior US official has said.
The two leaders reiterated the strength of the India-US relationship to advance peace, prosperity, and security in the Indo-Pacific and around the globe, Cale Brown, Principal Deputy Spokesperson of the State Department said on Thursday.
India and the US have explored ways to boost cooperation in the resource-rich Indo-Pacific region where China has been trying to spread its influence. The issue was discussed extensively during the third round of the India-US Maritime Security Dialogue which took place in Goa in 2018.
The US has been pushing for a broader role by India in the strategically important Indo-Pacific region. India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China's rising military maneuvering in the region.
"Both leaders agreed to continue close cooperation on a full range of regional and international issues and look forward to Quadrilateral consultations and the US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue later this year," Brown said.
In November 2017, India, the US, Australia and Japan had given shape to the long-pending Quadrilateral coalition to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of Chinese influence.
The first 2+2 dialogue was held in New Delhi in September 2018 after the mechanism was approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump.
During the call, Jaishankar and Pompeo discussed the ongoing bilateral and multilateral cooperation on issues of international concern, including efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, support the peace process in Afghanistan, and address recent destabilising actions in the region, Brown said in a readout of the telephonic conversation.
The two leaders have been in regular communication during the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 7 lakh lives and infected nearly 19 million people worldwide.