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Press Statement by External Affairs Minister at the Second 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in Washington DC, USA

December 19, 2019

Secretary of State, Mr. Pompeo,
Secretary of Defense, Mr. Esper,
My Cabinet colleague, Shri Rajnath Singh,
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media,

A Very Good Afternoon !

As you can see, we have just concluded the second round of the India-U.S. 2+2 Dialogue. This particular dialogue was created by the prime minister and President Trump as the first, in India’s case, with any country, to provide a positive and forward-looking vision for our strategic partnership.

Now, in recent months we have seen five ministerial-level visits between the two sides apart from institutionalized dialogues and parliamentary exchanges, which demonstrate the intensity of the engagement. But our discussions today, I believe, will take those to a higher level.

Among the key issues that we discussed today was the Indo-Pacific, including ways to leverage our respective strengths to benefit not just our two countries but the entire region. Our cooperation is aimed at advancing a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific based on the recognition of ASEAN centrality.

We are each promoting connectivity and development partnership among countries in the region, and there is an opportunity, I believe, to build further synergies.

To this end, we have also agreed to promote UN peacekeeping capacity-building of our partners in the Indo-Pacific, expanding on a successful program of trilateral cooperation that both of us did with African countries.

We are delighted to welcome the United States as a founding member of the Coalition for Disaster-Resilient Infrastructure, which will enhance its effectiveness in the region’s preparedness against natural disasters.

Our counterterrorism effort was also discussed at today’s meeting. And these have been boosted by a growing consensus on the nature of terror threats in the region, and the dangers of cross-border terrorism and sanctuaries.

I appreciate very much the sentiments, expressed by Secretary Pompeo on the 11th anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai attack. We discussed ways to address these challenges, including by working closely together at the FATF. We also took note of exchanges between our judicial academies for appreciation of challenges and evolving practices in adjudicating counterterrorism cases, and agreed to further facilitate such exchanges in the areas of criminal jurisprudence.

We had a brief discussion on trade, and as all of you know, our bilateral trade has registered double-digit growth of late. We have noted very good progress. There are ongoing negotiations on the subject of trade, and I’m very confident that we’ll find a balanced outcome that satisfies both sides.

India and the United States have an excellent cooperation in science and technology, and we have concluded and brought into effect a new agreement that facilitates science and technology cooperation. We have also today reached agreement through an MOU on water resources between our Ministry of Jal Shakti and the U.S. Geological Survey for collaboration in quality assessment of the management of water.

People-to-people ties have been one of the defining elements of our friendship. We take great pride in the achievements of Indians and Indian Americans in the United States, and their contribution to American society, economy, and polity. Creating services including the movement of natural persons in a fair and non-discriminatory manner has contributed significantly to the deepening of ties.

Today I certainly look forward to working with the U.S. side to nurture and sustain these ties. We have agreed to take steps to promote better understanding and awareness among each other’s stakeholders. We’re connected at multiple levels. We have arrived at a common intent to facilitate regular exchanges between our parliamentarians and also to provide short-term internship opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs through dedicated programs.

We exchange views on various global and regional issues of mutual interest, including our partnership in multilateral fora. I’m very grateful to Secretary Pompeo for reiterating the U.S. Government support of the Chabahar project, which will immensely benefit Afghanistan.

The content and quality of our discussions today will commensurate with and reflective of the broad expanse of our ties. We reviewed ongoing cooperation in all areas of the interface of foreign policy and defense and outlined new priorities. Our officials will be guided by the strategic direction of today’s talks and will take concrete action in the months ahead in that direction. I thank you for your attention, I thank the two secretaries for their hospitality and warm welcome.

Washington DC
December 18, 2019

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