On Thursday, India and the US held the inaugural edition of their long-awaited 2+2 dialogue, featuring External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and their US counterparts, Mike Pompeo and Jim Mattis respectively. The following is the full text of Swaraj's remarks delivered upon the culmination of discussions:
Secretary of State Mr. Pompeo,
Secretary of Defense Mr. Mattis,
My Cabinet colleague Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman,
Ladies and gentlemen of the media,
We have just concluded our talks in the first-ever 2+2 Dialogue between India and the United States. As you know, this new dialogue format was decided by Prime Minister Modi and President Trump in their first meeting in Washington DC in June 2017.
It reflects our leaders’ desire to further elevate our bilateral strategic communication on cross-cutting defence and security issues. This is the first visit abroad by Secretary Pompeo and Secretary Mattis together. This is also Secretary Pompeo’s first visit to India in his current capacity and my very first meeting with him.
Naturally we had a lot to discuss. Prior to the 2+2 dialogue, I had a bilateral meeting with Secretary Pompeo this morning, where we reviewed the direction of our bilateral relations in recent months and exchanged views on a number of regional issues of shared concern.
The recent decision by the United States to put India in the list of countries eigible for Strategic Trade Authorization Tier-I License Exemption reflects India’s robust and responsible export control policies. In our meeting today, we also agreed to work together to secure India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group at the earliest.
An important element of our strategic partnership is the rapidly growing trade and investment ties. Faster growth in these areas and deeper people-to-people connections are a force for our strategic partnership.
Rapidly growing economies is giving rise to new opportunities and a basis for more intense economic engagement which supports development of manufacturing, promotes knowledge and innovation, creates jobs and provides critical resources for growth. The United States is emerging as a supplier of energy to India. We recognized and supported efforts made by the two sides to address trade-related issues on both sides and to make trade balanced and mutually beneficial.
I sought Secretary Pompeo’s support to nurture our people-to-people links. Specifically, I conveyed our expectation for a non-discriminatory and predictable approach to the H1B visa regime, given its high impact on innovation, competitiveness and people-to-people partnership, all of which are a vital source of strength for our relationship.
In the discussion of the four Ministers at the 2+2 dialogue, we noticed a growing convergence of views between our countries, among others on the Indo-Pacific. Our respective approaches towards this concept have been outlined by our leaders — by President Trump at the APEC meeting last year and by Prime Minister Modi at the Shangri-La Dialogue this summer. We see the Indo-Pacific as a free, open and inclusive concept, with ASEAN centrality at the core and defined by a common rules-based order that both our countries are pursuing.
We welcomed the United States’ interest in expanding its economic footprint in the region as they complement our own efforts. We agreed to strengthen our bilateral cooperation as well as cooperation with other partners in the region to achieve common goals in connectivity and infrastructure.
Our counter-terrorism cooperation has acquired a new qualitative edge and purpose. We recognized the value of the Terrorists Designations Dialogue established last year as well as other mechanisms to promote cooperation in counter-terrorism and homeland security. We have agreed to deepen our cooperation in international forums like the United Nations and the Financial Action Task Force.
We welcomed the recent designations of Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists by the United States. They underscore the international community’s scrutiny over the threat of terrorism emanating from Pakistan, which has affected India and the United States alike. In the 10th anniversary of the 26/11 attacks, we recognized the importance of justice and retribution for the masterminds behind this terrorist attack.
We also discussed the situation in South Asia in some detail. India supports President Trump’s South Asia Policy. His call for Pakistan to stop its policy of supporting cross-border terrorism finds resonance with us. We discussed the ongoing efforts by India and the United States in promoting an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan government-controlled reconciliation process, that brings together all ethnic groups and political formation in the country.
We had productive exchange on other regional issues as well.
Overall, I am highly satisfied with our conversation today. The 2+2 meeting has helped shared efforts of both sides to promote a whole-of-government approach for our strategic priorities. India and the United States, as the largest and the oldest democracies, each pursuing its independent foreign policy, have many shared global objectives. As equal partners in cooperation, our two countries can benefit not only our two peoples but also become a factor for peace and stability in the wider world.
We have agreed to closely monitor the implementation of the decisions taken today. Secretary Pompeo and I decided to remain in touch regularly through the new hotline between the Foreign Ministers that we will establish.
Disclaimer: The Minister of External Affairs' speech was delivered in Hindi. This is an approximate translation of the speech.
The entire text has been taken exactly as posted by the official website of the Ministry of External Affairs and has not been edited by Firstpost
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Updated Date: Sep 06, 2018 15:12:23 IST