India’s first 2+2 dialogue with the US, which was postponed this month, would now take place in the first week of September, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday. Sitharaman said the agenda during the talks would be on developing and strengthening defence cooperation.
“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 Mattis,” ANI quoted Sitharaman as saying.
In the last week of June, the United States of America postponed its first ‘2+2’ dialogue with India, which is a meeting between the ministers for External Affairs and Defence and the US secretaries of state and defence, citing “unavoidable reasons”. Under the arrangement, Sitharaman and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj were to meet US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington.
However, the US offered to host Sitharaman in Washington DC in the first week of July in line with the original plan but the recommendation was declined by India. The “2+2” dialogue is meant to replace the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue between the foreign and commerce ministers of the two countries that was held during the previous Obama administration.
While neither side had specified any official reason for the postponement, it was believed that Pompeo’s unscheduled visit to North Korea was the cause. The delay had led to several speculations doing the rounds that US was apparently not happy with India going ahead with its plan to buy S-400 missiles from Russia, which falls under the category of equipment targeted under the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). However, US officials had made it clear that the postponement had nothing to do with bilateral issues or policy issues pertaining to Iran or Russia.