New Delhi: India’s Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh and Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar welcomed U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper to New Delhi for the third annual India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. The Ministers welcomed the elevation of the India-U.S. relationship to a Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership during the visit of President Donald J. Trump to India in February 2020. They reiterated their commitment to further strengthening the India-U.S. partnership, anchored in mutual trust and friendship, shared commitment to democracy, converging strategic interests, and robust engagement of their citizens.
While celebrating more than seven decades of diplomatic engagement between India and the United States, the Ministers intend to expand cooperation under the 2+2 framework to realize the full potential of the India-U.S. Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership.
Co-operation during the COVID-19 Pandemic
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. India expressed appreciation for the 200 ventilators provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to the Indian Red Cross Society, while the U.S. expressed appreciation for India’s export of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), essential medicines, and therapeutics to the United States during these challenging times. The Ministers looked forward to the conclusion of an overarching MoU between India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including their component agencies and departments, to enhance health cooperation, including on health emergencies and pandemics, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of communicable and non-communicable diseases, and biomedical research and innovation. The Ministers also looked forward to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD/NIH) to collaborate through an International Center of Excellence in Research focused on infectious diseases including COVID-19 and other emerging threats. They welcomed the upcoming call for applications for clinical research fellowships for early and mid-career Indian and American scientists to help expand the cohort of physician scientists focused on research that will advance clinical practice and benefit public health in both countries. Noting the importance of health sector cooperation, they also looked forward to convening the India-U.S. Health Dialogue at an early date.
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.
The Ministers expressed appreciation for the repatriation of stranded Indian and U.S. nationals from both countries during the pandemic.
Shared Vision for the Indo-Pacific and Global Leadership
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. Highlighting the importance of securing the economic and security interests of all stakeholders having a legitimate interest in the region, the Ministers welcomed the growing understanding on the Indo-Pacific among like-minded countries. They reaffirmed that closer India-U.S. cooperation will support shared interests in promoting security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. They also emphasized that 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 Ministers welcomed the recent convening of the Second Australia-India-Japan-United States Quadrilateral Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo on October 6, 2020.They appreciated the exchange of views on regional issues of mutual interest, as well as ongoing cooperation related to maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, regional connectivity, health security and counter terrorism. The Ministers also welcomed the fact that these Consultations would now be held annually. They expressed their support for further strengthening Quad cooperation through expanded activities, including initiating a dialogue among the development organizations of partner countries.
The Ministers expressed their support for sustainable, transparent, quality infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific region. They looked forward to furthering collaboration between USAID and India’s Development Partnership Administration (DPA) with a view to undertaking joint projects in the region. The Ministers welcomed the establishment of a permanent presence of the U.S. International Development Finance Cooperation (DFC) in India this year. The United States expressed strong support for the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) as a leading mechanism for promoting regional economic development. Recognizing the need to contain the build-up of sovereign debt in developing and low-income countries by ensuring responsible, transparent, and sustainable financing practices for both borrowers and creditors, the Ministers looked forward to exploring ways to cooperate under the Blue Dot Network. They also looked forward to the Second Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF) to be held on October 28-29, 2020.
Building on a strong record of peacekeeping cooperation, the Ministers decided to expand joint capacity building efforts with partner countries in the Indo-Pacific and to participate in multilateral peacekeeping training exercises.
The Ministers discussed their shared interest in promoting a sovereign, peaceful, united, democratic, inclusive, stable and secure Afghanistan, including support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. They applauded India’s development assistance, and efforts to build trade linkages and multi-modal connectivity infrastructure for Afghanistan to enhance its regional connectivity to sustain growth and development over the long term.
The United States congratulated India for its non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the term 2021-2022. The Ministers reiterated their commitment to work together in close coordination at the UNSC and in International Organizations. The U.S. also reaffirmed its continued strong support for India’s permanent membership in a reformed UNSC as well as for India’s early entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Advancing the Defence and Security Partnership
Noting the 15th anniversary of the inaugural U.S.-India Defense Framework Agreement, the Ministers commended what has become a comprehensive, resilient, and multi-faceted Major Defense Partnership (MDP) between India and the United States. They applauded the significant step of the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA). They also welcomed enhanced maritime information sharing and maritime domain awareness between their Navies and affirmed their commitment to build upon existing defense information-sharing at the joint-service and service-to-service levels and explore potential new areas of mutually beneficial cooperation.
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 U.S. Central Command and Africa Command, including broader participation in exercises and conferences, so as to promote shared security interests. The U.S. appreciated India’s leadership in establishing an Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR). The Ministers welcomed the positioning of a Liaison Officer from the U.S. 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.
The Ministers expressed satisfaction at 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 Defense Ministries. The Ministers welcomed the convening of the Military Cooperation Group (MCG) later this year to review bilateral military-to-military engagement including joint exercises, training and expert exchanges. They looked forward to interaction between the Special Forces of India and the United States.
The Ministers welcomed the inclusion of the Royal Australian Navy in the U.S.-India-Japan MALABAR Naval Exercise scheduled to be held in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea in November 2020. Highlighting the importance of deepening maritime cooperation and the growing sophistication of U.S.-India naval cooperation, the Ministers welcomed the PASSEX carried out by the Navies of both countries. They also looked forward to the convening of the next edition of the Tri-Services Amphibious TIGER TRIUMPH HADR Exercise and Army Exercises YUDH ABHYAS and VAJRA PRAHAR in 2021. The U.S. welcomed India’s co-hosting of the Indo-Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference (IPACC), Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS) and Senior Enlisted Leader Forum (SELF) in 2023.
The Ministers decided to work together to realize the development of their respective defense industries. Acknowledging India’s contributions to the global supply chain of major defence platforms and commitment to defense innovation, the Ministers reiterated the importance of Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), and stated their intention to fast track projects under DTTI. They noted with satisfaction the signing of a Statement of Intent (SoI) at the 10th DTTI meeting to strengthen dialogue on defence technology cooperation on several specific DTTI projects as well as a DTTI Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) for identification and development of joint projects. India looked forward to the participation by the U.S. Government and defence industry at the upcoming Aero-India in February 2021.
Recognizing the importance of cooperation in defence innovation, the Ministers welcomed the inaugural meeting between the Indian Defence Innovation Organization (DIO-iDEX) and U.S. Defense Innovation United (DIU) in July 2020. They also looked forward to the inaugural Industrial Security Annex (ISA) Summit later this year which would further strengthen defence industrial cooperation between both countries.
Strengthening Bilateral India-U.S. Cooperation
The Ministers welcomed efforts to rejuvenate and expand bilateral India-U.S. trade in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, they noted ongoing discussions by the Unites States Trade Representative and India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry to reach an understanding on improving market access, removing barriers to trade, and improving the business environment.
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. They welcomed the announcement of new priorities and roadmap for each of the Pillars during the Ministerial meeting of the SEP held on July 17, 2020. With the objective of intensifying cooperation in the area of Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPRs), the Ministers welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in this regard.
Recalling the historic India-U.S. Civil Nuclear Agreement, the Ministers welcomed the project Division of Responsibility principles between Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Westinghouse Electric Company (WEC) for the construction of six nuclear reactors at Kovvada, and looked forward to the detailed Division of Responsibility that would pave the way for a techno-commercial offer. The Ministers also welcomed the extension of the MoU between the Government of India and the Government of the United States of America concerning cooperation with India’s Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP).
The Ministers 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. They denounced the use of terrorist proxies and strongly condemned cross border terrorism in all its forms. They 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 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. The Ministers also committed to 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.
The Ministers 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.
In view of the announcement made during President 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. The Ministers welcomed efforts by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and India’s Ministry of Home Affairs to reinvigorate the Homeland Security Dialogue.
The Ministers welcomed the virtual convening of the India-U.S. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Working Group on October 1, 2020. They reaffirmed their commitment towards an open, reliable and secure internet as well as the multi-stakeholder model of internet governance. They emphasized fostering cooperation between their industry and academia for an open, secure and resilient supply of strategic material and critical infrastructure and to independently evaluate the risk associated with deployment of emerging ICT technologies, including 5G networks.
The Ministers also welcomed the recent convening of the annual India-U.S. Cyber Dialogue on September 15, 2020 and the first India-U.S. Defence Cyber Dialogue on September 17, 2020.
Recalling their countries’ proud record of achievement in space science and satellite application, the Ministers applauded the ongoing collaboration between the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), including on the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) satellite scheduled to be launched by 2022. The Ministers also looked forward to sharing Space Situational Awareness information, which will catalyze efforts to create the conditions for a safe, stable, and sustainable space environment. They also expressed the intent to continue the India-U.S. Space Dialogue as well as discussions on areas of potential space defense cooperation.
The Ministers welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Technical Cooperation in Earth Observation and Earth Sciences between the Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for developing a better understanding of the regional and global weather origins in the Indian Ocean and advancing common research goals in meteorology, oceanography, and management of living marine resources. The Ministers welcomed the signing of an Agreement between India’s Department of Post and the United States Postal Service, which will facilitate the electronic exchange of customs data related to postal shipments. They also applauded the signing of the Letter of Intent (LoI) between the Indian Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, Ministry of AYUSH and the Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Nurturing the People–to-People Bonds
underscoring the importance of ties between our respective legislatures, the Ministers welcomed the launch of an India-U.S. Parliamentary Exchange.
Applauding the entrepreneurial spirit of Indians and Indian-Americans that has mutually benefitted both nations, the Ministers recognised the important role of people-to-people linkages in strengthening the overall bilateral relationship and economic ties. Both sides look forward to the next iteration of the India-U.S. Consular Dialogue to further increase cooperation and discuss issues of mutual concern, including visas, and familial issues related to marriage, adoption and child custody.
The Ministers welcomed the increasing number of Indian students in the United States and acknowledged the role of expanding educational ties and fostering entrepreneurship and scientific innovation. In this context, the Ministers welcomed India’s National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 which would pave the way for enhanced collaboration between academic institutions of both countries. The Ministers looked forward to discussions to further advance India-U.S. educational partnerships.
Appreciating the valuable contribution of the Fulbright-Nehru Program over the years in furthering exchange of outstanding academics and professionals between both countries, the Ministers celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Program this year.
The Ministers welcomed the commencement of issuance of 12-month reciprocal temporary duty visas to officials from both Governments as a step to facilitate the growing partnership.
The United States looks forward to hosting the next 2+2 Ministerial in 2021.