New Delhi: India and the US Thursday held the first edition of the twice-deferred two-plus-two talks, covering entire expanse of the bilateral ties and looking to further expand their global strategic cooperation, including in the Indo-Pacific region. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held the talks with US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis.
In her opening remarks, Swaraj said she was confident that the outcome of the talks will help unleash the untapped potential of the relationship between the two nations and further elevate the level of engagement. She said there has been significant progress in all key areas of cooperation between the two countries.
In his remarks, Pompeo said both sides should continue to ensure freedom of the seas and work towards peaceful resolutions of maritime disputes. He also stressed promoting market-based economics and good governance.
“Our two nations are united by shared values of democracy, respect for individual rights and a shared commitment to freedom,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Swaraj and Sitharaman held separate meetings with Pompeo and Mattis respectively. Official sources said a number of key bilateral issues were discussed during the meetings.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar called the meeting between Swaraj and Pompeo a “productive” engagement. He said the two sides took stock of “impressive strides” in the bilateral relationship and discussed steps to take the relationship to an “even higher trajectory”.
Both Pompeo and Mattis arrived here Wednesday for the inaugural Indo-US two-plus-two talks which were finalised during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Washington last year. In a special gesture, Swaraj received Secretary Pompeo at the airport here yesterday while Sitharaman welcomed Secretary Mattis, reflecting the importance India attaches to their visit here.
The officials said the focus of the two-plus-two talks will be to deepen global strategic partnership between the two countries and resolve differences over India’s defence engagement with Russia and crude oil import from Iran.
The two sides may also deliberate on a proposed pact on encrypted defence technologies and on ways to boost counterterror cooperation.