New Delhi: India and the US on Tuesday expressed their intention to expand cooperation under the 2+2 framework to realize the full potential of their Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership.
In a joint statement, issued after the third edition of the ministerial dialogue, led by Defence minister Rajnath Singh and External affairs minister S Jaishankar and the visiting US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark T Esper, the two sides reiterated their commitment to further strengthening the India-US partnership, anchored in mutual trust and friendship, shared commitment to democracy, converging strategic interests, and robust engagement of their citizens.
Taking a stern view on the use of terrorist proxies, the joint statement denounced the use of terrorist proxies and strongly condemned cross border terrorism in all its forms.
The ministers emphasised the need for concerted action against all terrorist networks, including al-Qaeda, ISIS/Daesh, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.
The ministers called on Pakistan to take immediate, sustained and irreversible action to ensure that no territory under its control is used for terrorist attacks, and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators and planners of all such attacks, including 26/11 Mumbai, Uri, and Pathankot.
The two sides agreed to continue exchange of information about sanctions and designations against terror groups and individuals, particularly in light of recent legislative changes in India, as well as countering the financing and operations of terrorist organizations, countering radicalism and terrorist use of the internet, cross-border movement of terrorists, and prosecuting, rehabilitating, and reintegrating returning terrorist fighters and family members
Apart from taking a hard hitting stand in condemning terrorism, the joint statement dwelt at length on five points: cooperation during the Covid-19 pandemic, shared vision for the Indo-Pacific and global leadership, advancing the defence and security partnership, strengthening India-US bilateral relationship and nurturing the people-to-people bonds.
Applauding the exemplary cooperation between India and the United States in confronting challenges emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministers reiterated their resolve to strengthen cooperation in the development of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, ventilators and other essential medical equipment.
The ministers sought to jointly promote access to high quality, safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines and treatments on a global scale. They reaffirmed efforts to enhance supply chain resilience and to seek alternatives to the current paradigm, which had come under severe strain during the pandemic and exposed critical vulnerabilities.
They also sought to support the global economic recovery, including in India and the United States, to emerge from the pandemic more resilient than ever.
The two sides reiterated their commitment to maintaining a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific built on a rules-based international order, underpinned by ASEAN centrality, rule of law, sustainable and transparent infrastructure investment, freedom of navigation and overflight, mutual respect for sovereignty, and peaceful resolution of disputes.
Highlighting the importance of securing the economic and security interests of all stakeholders having a legitimate interest in the region, the Ministers welcomed the growing understanding on the Indo-Pacific among like-minded countries.
They reaffirmed that closer India-US cooperation will support shared interests in promoting security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. They also emphasized that the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea should not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of any nation in accordance with international law.
Building on a strong record of peacekeeping cooperation, the Ministers decided to expand joint capacity building efforts with partner countries in the Indo-Pacific and to participate in multilateral peacekeeping training exercises.
They discussed their shared interest in promoting a sovereign, peaceful, united, democratic, inclusive, stable and secure Afghanistan, including support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
The US also reaffirmed its continued strong support for India’s permanent membership in a reformed UNSC as well as for India’s early entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
On advancing the defence and security partnership, the top ministers lauded the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).
They also welcomed enhanced maritime information sharing and maritime domain awareness between their Navies and affirmed their commitment to build upon existing defense information-sharing at the joint-service and service-to-service levels and explore potential new areas of mutually beneficial cooperation.
The ministers welcomed the inclusion of the Royal Australian Navy in the US-India-Japan MALABAR Naval Exercise scheduled to be held in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea next month.
The next round of 2+2 ministerial dialogue will be hosted by the US in 2021.