Why in News?
- Last week, the United States postponed what was meant to have been its first ‘2+2’ dialogue with India this month.
- No announcement of the next date for the ‘2+2’ dialogue has been made yet, but it is expected that the dialogue would now be held in New Delhi instead of Washington DC.
What are the reasons for postponement?
- Neither side has specified any official reason for the postponement but it is believed that US Secretaries of State is required to travel to North Korea around those dates as part of President Trump’s engagement with the communist country.
- US officials have been at pains to clarify that the postponement has nothing to do with bilateral issues or policy issues pertaining to Iran or Russia.
About “2+2” dialogue
- In foreign policy parleys, ‘Two plus Two’ is the term used for the institutionalisation of a dialogue mechanism between two countries consisting of the key ministries of defence & external affairs.
- The ‘2+2’ dialogue between India and US is a meeting between the India Ministers for External Affairs and Defence, and the US Secretaries of State and Defense.
- This “2+2” dialogue was 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.
- It is to focus on strengthening strategic, security and defence cooperation between the two countries.
- The shared priorities include job creation, improving the business and investment climate and sustaining a rules-based global order.
- The U.S. has strategic consultations in this format with key partners and allies including Australia, Japan and the Philippines.
Significance of “2 by 2” Dialogue
- To raise defence and security issues to the forefront and centre of the relationship between India and the U.S.
- It is aimed at enhancing peace and stability across the Indo-Pacific region by elevating strategic consultations in the dialogue.
What would have been the positive outcomes of 2+2 dialogue?
- The dialogue would enhance strategic coordination between the two nations.
- It would be helpful to coordinate more closely on Afghanistan, developments in the Asia Pacific, Indian Ocean and also in the Middle East (West Asia).
- This they believe would help in better handling of common challenges like Chinese aggression & West Asia crisis.
- It would insulate the India-US strategic relationship from feuds over trade and deep divide on economic integration policies as trade and commercial issues were discussed in the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue earlier.
- The talks were also expected to boost bilateral ease of ties in the backdrop of growing disagreement over the Iran nuclear deal and the brewing tariff war between the two sides.
Does India have a similar ‘2+2’ with any other country?
- At the ministerial level, this is the first time that India will be holding a ‘2+2’ dialogue with any country.
- At secretarial level, India has had similar ‘2+2’ dialogue with other countries. Example India-Australia held 2+2 dialogues on strategic defence ties in 2017, India & Japan too have a similar mechanism between them since 2010.
Issues of discontent between India and US
- Iran Sanctions: India had refused to cut down on all oil supplies from Iran. In other words, India is unwilling to accept US diktat on stopping all oil imports from Iran
- India’s plans to acquire the Russian S-400 missile system: Indo-US ties are also being tested over defence supplies from Russia including S-400 missile defence system and impending sanctions if India went ahead with the purchase.
- Trade protectionism of Trump administration has forced India to impose retaliatory measures.
- Several issues/disputes in World Trade Organisation (WTO); Trade protectionism; Disputes on the new American steel and aluminium tariffs; disputes on Indian price reductions on medical devices
- Harley-Davidson motorcycles row – US calling for India to scrap its 75-100% tariffs
What is the latest offer that India has turned down?
- According to the original plan, Defence Minister of India, Ms. Sitharaman was slated to follow up the ‘2+2’ meeting on July 6 with a visit to the US Secretaries of State and Defense, Pompeo and bilateral talks with US Defense Secretary James Mattis.
- After Pompeo became unavailable, the Department of Defense suggested that Sitharaman continue with her scheduled visit.
- But India was “keen to preserve the format” and declined the offer. India felt that accepting the offer would have defeated the purpose of ‘2+2’.
India- US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue
- The India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue is the signature mechanism for advancing the United States’ and India’s shared priorities of generating sustainable economic growth, creating jobs, improving the business and investment climate, enhancing livelihoods, and sustaining the rules-based global order.