US secretary of state, defence secy reach India for 2+2 meet

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Oct 26, 2020, 04.09 PM(IST) Oct 26, 2020, 04.21 PM(IST) Reported By: Sidhant Sibal

Mike Pompeo Photograph:( Reuters )

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Both -- Pompeo and Esper -- will have bilateral meeting with their Indian counterparts on Monday. A dinner has also been organised in their honour. 

Top two officials of Trump administration -- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper have reached New Delhi for the 2+2 India-US meet. It will be the most significant diplomatic engagement in New Delhi amid the Chinese aggression -- not only with India but also with other countries in the region.

Both -- Pompeo and Esper -- will have bilateral meeting with their Indian counterparts on Monday. A dinner has also been organised in their honour. 

The formal 2+2 happens on Tuesday and will be followed by a joint meet called by Indian and US foreign and defence leaders with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This will be for the second time that the Indian prime minister will meet foreign dignitaries amidst the COVID pandemic -- the first being Dr Abdullah Abdullah, the chief negotiator for Afghan government at the Intra Afghan talks in Doha.

Apart from Chinese aggression, Indo Pacific concept, COVID pandemic and other issues like increasing people to people engagement will be discussed.

A US administration official told WION, "Given China’s increasingly aggressive behaviour across the Indo-Pacific from the Himalayas to the South China Sea, it’s more important than ever that we work with like-minded partners such as India."

A military pact, BECA or Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement, is also expected to be signed. It is the last of the four foundational agreements and will allow for expanded geospatial information sharing between American and Indian armed forces.

In terms of defence and security, both countries have expanded cooperation. Earlier this year in July, Indian Navy and UN Navy's Nimitz undertook passing exercises in the Bay of Bengal. 

Defence trade has increased in a major away in the last two decades. India has the largest fleet of C17 and P8 outside of the US and in 2020, US authorised defence sales worth $20 billion were carried out to India.

The focus is also expected to be on the quad grouping of India, US, Japan and Australia. Earlier this month, Pompeo met with EAM Jaishankar in Tokyo.
 
Pompeo's visit comes just a week before the US goes to election on November 3. 

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