India holds ‘2+2’ Ministerial dialogue with the US: What it means
Context- Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met their counterparts from the US government, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken respectively, for the fifth 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue held in New Delhi on Friday (November 11).
The 2+2 meetings have been held annually with the US leaders since 2018.
What are 2+2 meetings and what is the rationale behind them?
- The 2+2 meetings signify the participation of two high-level representatives, Ministers holding Foreign and Defence portfolios, from each of the two countries who aim to enhance the scope of dialogue between them.
- Having such a mechanism enables the partners to better understand and appreciate each other’s strategic concerns and sensitivities taking into account political factors on both sides, in order to build a stronger, more integrated strategic relationship in a rapidly changing global environment.
Who are India’s 2+2 partners?
- The US is India’s oldest and most important 2+2 talks partner.
- The first 2+2 dialogue between the two countries was held during the Trump Administration, when then Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and then Secretary of Defence James Mattis met the late Sushma Swaraj and then Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi in September 2018.
- It was also seen as a replacement for the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, held between the foreign and commerce ministers of the two countries during the previous Obama administration.
- The launch of the dialogue was seen as a “reflection of the shared commitment” by India and the US to provide “a positive, forward-looking vision for the India-US strategic partnership and to promote synergy in their diplomatic and security efforts”.
- Additionally, India has held 2+2 meetings with ministers from Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom and Russia. Notably, in this year’s meeting, Antony Blinken reiterated the significance of India’s relations with some of these countries that are also important US allies.
- “We are promoting a free and open, prosperous, secure and resilient Indo-Pacific, including by strengthening our partnership through the QUAD with Japan and Australia,” he said. QUAD or the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is an informal security forum, and these four countries comprise its membership.
- The talks with Japan via this platform began in 2019, with the aim that it would “further enhance the strategic depth of bilateral security and defence cooperation,” according to a joint press release from back then.
- In 2021, at the inaugural edition of the talks with Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “Both Russia and India have a similar worldview of a more polycentric, more multipolar, more equitable world order. We advocate similar or identical positions on the most important political and military issues.”
- He also said that the 2+2 would turn into an “efficient dialogue platform to talk about a wide range of regional and international topics a little further deepening our traditional, mutual understanding.”
- The same year, 2+2 dialogue with Australia also began. In October 2023, the first such meeting with the UK took place.
Defence and strategic agreements under 2+2
- Over the years, the strategic bilateral relationship with its partners, including the dialogues held in the 2+2 format, has produced tangible and far-reaching results for India.
- India and the US have signed a troika of “foundational pacts” for deep military cooperation, beginning with the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016, followed by the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) after the first 2+2 dialogue in 2018, and then the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) in 2020.
Conclusion- The strengthening of the mechanisms of cooperation between the two militaries is of significance in the context of an increasingly aggressive China, which threatens a large number of countries in its neighbourhood and beyond, and which has been challenging several established norms and aspects of international relations. The establishment of the mechanism with Japan, which is also wary of China’s role, is another example of this.
Syllabus- GS-2; International Relations
Source- Indian Express