US and India high-level meeting focuses on strategic ties, global conflicts

Secretaries and Ministers with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 10, 2023, in New Delhi, India. PHOTO: X @narendramodi

At a time when the world is grappling with the devastating effects of the ongoing Israel-Hamas and Russia-Ukraine conflicts, US experts believe the Fifth India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue not only highlighted the growing strategic partnership between New Delhi and Washington, but is also vital for fostering global peace and stability.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Defense Secretary Llyod Austin met with their counterparts, India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar, and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, respectively, on November 10, 2023, in New Delhi, India. They reviewed progress on a wide range of issues between both countries, as well as matters concerning the Indo-Pacific, Middle East, and Ukraine.

US and Indian delegations during the Fifth India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue on November 10, 2023, in New Delhi, India. PHOTO: X @SecBlinken

About the Israel-Hamas war, a joint statement noted the Secretaries and Ministers expressed solidarity with Israel in the fight against terrorism emphasizing the importance of adhering to international humanitarian law, especially in protecting civilians, and calling for the prompt release of all hostages. They also “expressed mutual deep concern over the war in Ukraine and its tragic humanitarian consequences… with consequences predominantly affecting the global South,” it added.

“The Ministers committed to continue coordinating with partners in the region on humanitarian assistance to meet the urgent needs of Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” added the statement. “They expressed support for humanitarian pauses and committed to continue close diplomatic coordination, including with key partners in the region, to prevent the conflict from spreading, preserve stability in the Middle East, and work toward a political solution and durable peace.”

President of the US-India Business Council, Ambassador Atul Keshap, told News India Times, “The 2+2 Dialogue reflects how much strategic, technological, and economic convergence is happening between Delhi and Washington. Amidst rising geopolitical tensions and instability, India and America are democratic pillars of stability and prosperity that increasingly rely on and trust one another to help manage global challenges and ensure a strong deterrence.”

Chair of the US-India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Richard Rossow told News India Times, “The 2+2 Dialogue is where you see a lot of concrete announcements every year. But the fact that we’ve had so many leader level summits, the [fifth] 2+2 Dialogue ended up being a bit more of a stocktaking exercise… the number of significant new announcements was actually pretty sparse.”

Rossow pointed out that the one announcement “that kind of jumped out and it’s a pretty big deal” is the fact that India is now a full member of the Combined Maritime Forces, Bahrain, a multi-country coalition working on regional security issues in the Indian Ocean. “So, that’s a really significant outcome seeing the United States and India and other partners actively operating together,” he added.

Rossow, however, also emphasized he “saw surprisingly little in the Energy and Climate Change side which has been such a priority and thrust of the Biden administration with a COP 28 Summit coming up…” adding “It was a bit surprising as well that there was relatively little conversation at least was reported publicly about issues in India’s own neighborhood in South Asia… we’ve had two very different approaches to how we’re looking at concerns about the erosion of democracy in Bangladesh.”

“The fifth edition of the 2+2 Dialogue was a success and an important reminder that at time of conflicts in Eastern Europe and West Asia, a strong US-India relationship is the need of the hour to show the global community that both democracies can coalesce and help bring about a much-needed diplomatic solution and consensus building,” President of US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, Mukesh Aghi told News India Times.

Underscoring that a strong Washington-New Delhi partnership is critical, Aghi noted, “Both countries work to rebuild fractured supply chains, converge on clean energy goals ahead of COP 28, and build on healthcare resiliency at a time of geopolitical and macroeconomic headwinds.”

On Multilateral diplomacy, the joint statement said that US and India discussed the significant role of Quad “as a force of global good” in the Indo-Pacific region and both countries look forward to the next in-person Quad Leaders’ Summit in New Delhi next year. Both countries highlighted the potential of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor to improve connectivity between Asia and Europe unlocking new economic growth opportunities for both continents. The US also commended India’s leadership during its G20 Presidency for effectively dealing with current global economic issues.

About the ongoing Defense Partnership between both countries, the Secretaries and Ministers expressed their dedication in enhancing the comprehensive defense collaboration through extensive discussions. As such, they “appreciated the commencement of negotiations for a commercial agreement between General Electric (GE) Aerospace and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to manufacture GE F-414 jet engines in India.”

They also reviewed the fifth US-India Health Dialogue, that was recently concluded in Washington DC. Accordingly, the statement noted that potential collaboration was discussed in several areas, “including multilateral cooperation, pandemic preparedness and response, health safety and security, universal health coverage, access, equity, and communicable and non-communicable diseases for future cooperation.”

Further, both sides expressed satisfaction about the progress achieved in the US-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) and anticipated second iteration of iCET early next year in New Delhi.



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