The Indo-American 2 + 2 ministerial conference in New Delhi next week will review achievements and set next steps in global cooperation between the world‘s two largest democracies, a senior Trump administration official said.
The Trump administration’s last major diplomatic engagement days before the Nov. 3 presidential election, the two-day meeting, involving four senior Indian and US ministers, is expected to lay the groundwork for the next four years of this relationship, regardless of who comes to power.
Speaking on conditions of anonymity, senior officials in the State Department and Pentagon administration claimed there was bipartisan support for the United States in its dealings with India.
“The 2 + 2 Ministerial Conference will serve as a cornerstone to review our many achievements and define the next steps for the comprehensive US-India comprehensive strategic partnership,” a senior administration official said on a conference call organized by the Foreign Press Center. in Washington DC.
Overall, they intend to focus on four major themes during this year’s 2 + 2: global cooperation, which includes public health collaboration and work in the Indo-Pacific; economic cooperation, which includes a partnership on energy and space; interpersonal ties; and defense and security links.
Noting that when it comes to economic cooperation between the United States and India, they are working together for economic recovery and getting bilateral trade back on track, the official said that the US International Development Finance Corporation s ‘was committed to supporting over $ 500 million in investment projects in India and recently appointed a Managing Director in Mumbai who will help expand their investments in India and the region.
The official said joint efforts to develop and produce COVID-19 vaccines have taken off at a remarkable rate.
More than half a dozen U.S. companies and institutions are working on vaccine research with Indian partners like the Serum Institute of India, the official said.
U.S. government health and development agencies, including the CDC, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and USAID, have provided technical assistance and training to Indian partners on a significant scale, including included at state and local levels.
Global cooperation also includes high-level commitments, the official said, adding that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, along with their Japanese and Australian counterparts, met in Tokyo on October 6. for the second quadri meeting of foreign ministers.
“With China’s increasingly aggressive behavior across the Indo-Pacific, from the Himalayas to the South China Sea, it is more important than ever that we work with like-minded partners like the India, ”the official said, adding that the United States also looks forward to working with India during her next term in the United Nations Security Council to address these challenges and other pressing issues they are facing.
Another senior administration official said defense relations with India are currently at their best in recent memory.
“The progress we have made since India became a major defense partner in 2016 is remarkable. We held the first 2 + 2 ministerial conference in 2018, Prime Minister Modi visited the United States in 2019, and President Trump visited India in February this year. , to name just a few symbolic highlights, ”the official said.
During the 2 + 2, the two countries are working to strengthen maritime security in the Indian Ocean region by coordinating security cooperation and strengthening the capacities of partners with countries in the region.
India announced just this week that it is inviting Australia, which along with the United States and Japan, to the Malabar naval exercise in November. Australia’s last participation in Malabar dates back to 2007, more than ten years ago.
“This invitation signals not only a strategic convergence between the quadrilateral partners, but a recognition that regional security requires strengthening allies and partnerships and multilateral work on issues of mutual concern,” the official said.
Noting this information-sharing, which is central to defense cooperation, the official said the two countries have made significant progress towards concluding the latest basic defense agreement, the basic agreement exchange and cooperation, or BECA.
“This agreement will allow for an expanded exchange of geospatial information between our armed forces. We are also seeking to expand the secure communication capabilities between our respective armies as well as between our foreign and defense ministries, and this is also well represented focus on what we’re trying to accomplish in the information exchange space, ”the official said.
With respect to military-to-military engagement, India and the United States are working to strengthen interoperability by increasing the sophistication of combined exercises.
The transit exercise between the Indian Navy and the U.S.S. Nimitz Carrier Strike Group this summer is just one example. Another example is the recent refueling of one of the Navy’s P-8 planes at Port Blair, the official said.
Over the past year, the United States has assigned a liaison officer to the Information Fusion Center-Indian Ocean region. And an Indian liaison was placed at the US Central Command, both of which improved coordination and information sharing between the navies.