India-us 2+2 strate­gic di­a­logue in Septem­ber

Oman Daily Observer - - INDIA -

NEW DELHI: The first 2+2 In­di­aus strate­gic di­a­logue, de­ferred at the last minute last month, will now take place in the first week of Septem­ber, De­fence Min­is­ter Nir­mala Sithara­man, said on Fri­day, dis­miss­ing spec­u­la­tions that the Amer­i­can de­ci­sion to put off the talks on July 6 sig­nalled a lower pri­or­ity to the ties be­tween the two coun­tries.

“The 2+2 di­a­logue with the US is to hap­pen in the first week of Septem­ber. The agenda will be to de­velop and strengthen strate­gic de­fence co­op­er­a­tion and to fol­low-on with what had tran­spired dur­ing the meet­ing with US De­fence Sec­re­tary Jim Matti,” she told re­porters here.

The min­is­ter as­serted that there were no rea­sons for de­fer­ring the talks other than the fact that the US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo had to be in North Korea in the first week of July for un­sched­uled meet­ings with of­fi­cials of that coun­try.

“That was the only win­dow (avail­able to them for North Korea talks). There is no other rea­son.”

The struc­tured talks be­tween the for­eign and de­fence min­is­ters of the two coun­tries were sched­uled to hap­pen in the first week of July.

As such Sithara­man and Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj were to meet US De­fence Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis and Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo in Wash­ing­ton on July 6.

But days be­fore that, the US in­formed

The “2+2” di­a­logue for strate­gic level talks, which was agreed be­tween the two sides dur­ing Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s June 2017 US trip, will re­place the Strate­gic and Com­mer­cial Di­a­logue be­tween the for­eign and com­merce min­is­ters of the two coun­tries.

The sud­den de­ci­sion to call off the talks in July trig­gered spec­u­la­tion that the US may not have been happy with India go­ing ahead with its plan to buy mil­i­tary equip­ment from Rus­sia de­spite Amer­i­can sanc­tions tar­get­ing Moscow un­der the Coun­ter­ing Amer­ica’s Ad­ver­saries through Sanc­tions Act (CAATSA).

Nir­mala also said that India would go head with the pro­posed pur­chase of five Rus­sian-made S-400 Tri­umf ad­vanced air de­fence sys­tems de­spite US sanc­tions against Moscow red­flag­ging the deal for which an agree­ment is al­most ready.

She didn’t give a spe­cific time for con­clud­ing the $5.5 bil­lion mil­i­tary deal for the Tri­umf in­ter­cep­tor-based mis­sile sys­tem — billed as a gamechanger for India’s abil­ity to counter bal­lis­tic mis­siles and stealth air­craft like those China is de­vel­op­ing.

“It is al­most at the con­clu­sive stage. It will hap­pen soon. But when it is go­ing to be fi­nalised, I can’t say,” Sithara­man told re­porters about the much-awaited pro­cure­ment of the long-range sur­face-to-air mis­sile de­fence sys­tem.

The agenda will be to de­velop and strengthen strate­gic de­fence co­op­er­a­tion and to fol­low-on with what had tran­spired dur­ing the meet­ing with US De­fence Sec­re­tary Jim Matti NIR­MALA SITHARA­MAN De­fence Min­is­ter

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