Ahead of 2+2 meet, Sushma, Nirmala meet Pompeo, Mattis

Ahead of 2+2 meet, Sushma, Nirmala meet Pompeo, Mattis

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James Mattis pose beside Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman before the start of their meeting in New Delhi. (Reuters Photo)

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and United States’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in New Delhi early on Thursday.

Swaraj and Pompeo had a meeting at Jawaharlal Nehru Bhavan – the headquarters of the Ministry of External Affairs in the national capital. They will be joined by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her counterpart American Secretary of Defence James N Mattis for the India-US 2+2 dialogue later on the day.

Sitharaman and Mattis also had a separate meeting at the headquarters of the Ministry of Defence in South Block. They will later drive to the Jawaharlal Nehru Bhavan for the 2+2 dialogue.

The India-US 2+2 dialogue is likely to “cover a broad range of bilateral, regional and global issues of shared interest, with a view to strengthening strategic and security ties between the two countries”.

The 2+2 dialogue is a new format of diplomatic engagement between India and the US. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump had agreed on the new format of engagement when they had met in Washington D.C. in June 2017.

Pompeo and Mattis arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday to take part in what is being termed as “biggest diplomatic engagement” between India and the US of the current year. Pompeo had a brief visit to Islamabad before flying to New Delhi. Mattis, however, flew to New Delhi directly from Washington D.C.

The 2+2 dialogue in New Delhi is likely to see India and the US making progress towards signing Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), which would provide for greater access to critical military communication networks of the two nations and would thus make better interoperability possible.

The agreement will facilitate installation of high-end security gadgets on the many defense equipment and weapon systems, which India would be procuring from the US.

The parleys between India and the US on Thursday will also see both sides taking forward discussion on another pact, which would provide for sharing of intelligence on movement of vessels in Indian Ocean.

They are also likely to explore possibilities of setting up hotlines between the offices of External Affairs Minister and US Secretary of State as well as between Defence Minister and US Secretary of Defence.

The US is likely to step up pressure on India to bring down its oil import from Iran. New Delhi has been nudging Washington for granting a waiver for India from the sanctions US is set to impose targeting energy exports from Iran from November 5.

India is also expecting the US to grant it a waiver from the sanctions imposed on import of military hardware from Russia. India needs the waiver to import S-400 missile defence system from Russia.

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