India and US hold talks amid efforts to ‘construct shared global agenda’
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin have arrived in New Delhi to hold talks with their Indian counterparts, Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Defense Secretary Giridhar Aramane, at an annual 2+2 ministerial dialogue.
Delivering statements ahead of the closed-door discussions, the parties emphasized the increasing scope of cooperation between two countries that stretches from “sea bed to space.”
“We're harnessing together the power of innovation to make our economies more resilient and to make our communities more secure, while expanding inclusive economic opportunity,” Blinken said.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the dialogue is being held “at a time of great momentum” in the relations between the two countries “in the face of urgent global challenges” and hence it was “most important than even that the world's two largest democracies exchange views.”
He emphasized that Washington and New Delhi have made “impressive gains” in building their defense partnership, including integrating industrial bases, strengthening interoperability and “sharing cutting edge technology.”
Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first state visit to the US in June this year “opened up a new chapter” in the relationship between the two countries. “The dialogue today will be an opportunity to advance the vision of our respective leaders, building a forward-looking partnership while we construct a shared global agenda.”
Jaishankar stressed that the Indo-Pacific region would be the key focus of discussion at the dialogue. “As we all know, India and the US are key members of the Quad, which is scheduled to meet at a leaders’ level early next year India,” he said. The foreign minister added that New Delhi is also engaged in other frameworks which reflect its “strategic convergences.”
These include the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), which India joined last year; the I2U2 grouping made up of Israel, India, the United Arab Emirates and the United States; and the recently-launched India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), a trade route connecting India with Europe via the Middle East. Despite the fate of the project being questioned due to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, both Washington and New Delhi have been pushing the idea at all public forums, both regional and bilateral.
Acknowledging their shared focus on the Indo-Pacific, Blinken emphasized the urgency of US-India collaboration in the region. "We have a lot to do, including with our defense colleagues. I think it's further evidence of our resolute focus for the United States on the Indo-Pacific, our region for the future, the future is actually now, and we're building it together with India.”
Blinken is in New Delhi after a trip to South Korea and a G7 meeting in Japan, before that, he visited the Middle East.
The US-India dialogue comes at a time when ties between New Delhi and Beijing remain strained over a prolonged border dispute which reached its height in June 2020, when a deadly clash occurred between Indian and Chinese troops. In September this year, the two countries held their 20th round of corps commander-level talks as part of ongoing efforts towards disengagement and de-escalation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC); nevertheless, there hasn’t been any clear indication of a breakthrough.