India-US begin 2-plus-2 Dialogue in New Delhi

The world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy have once again sat down to discuss the potential of their bilateral relations as the top officials and leaders from both the nations began talks in the Indian capital New Delhi to foster their defence and security ties.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis began their talks with their Indian counterparts Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and the Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in a two-plus-two meeting.

The relations between two nations have grown in recent years and it is expected both sides will seek way forward to counter the mounting influence of China in Indian neighbourhood, Southeast Asia and largely across Indian Ocean. Both sides also share concerns about anti-Western and anti-Indian sentiment popular with the extremist groups based in Pakistan.

It is expected that Indian and US governments will sign the COMCASA i.e. the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement which will pave way for sale of highly sensitive military equipment to India by US. Jim Mattis told media, “My visit is a firm indicator of what we see as India’s place among our most strategic, and I would even call them ‘consequential’ emerging partners. We have been discussing how we can more openly communicate back and forth  because of sensitivity  of some of the technology… and we know that when we share this with another like-minded nation, we can keep it secure”.

US is the second largest arms supplier to India with both nations sharing arms deals worth $15billion over last 10 years. Signing of the COMCASA, will also materialise the sale of armed Guardian drones against the surveillance only versions of the drones authorised before. Also, the agreement will lower the chances of US sanctions on India if latter goes ahead with the purchase of S-400 missiles from Russia. Russia is facing US sanctions under which any country which engages with Russia in both defence and intelligence sectors will also be liable to face the sanctions under secondary category. US President, however has the authority to grant waivers to the above on pretext of National Security interests.

US has also asked nations to stop buying Iranian oil and India being the second largest importer of the same is currently seeking concessions from US over the same.

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