US Secretary of State and Defence, Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper will arrive in New Delhi today for the third addition of the 2+2 ministerial dialogue scheduled for October 27. They will meet their Indian counterparts, Minister of External Affairs, S Jaishankar and Union Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh. The dialogue is taking place just ahead of the the US presidential elections and amid the cross-border tensions between India and China.
The US ministers will also travel to Maldives, Sri Lanka and Indonesia in addition to their trip to India. Pompeo took to Twitter and said, "Wheels up for my trip to India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia. Grateful for the opportunity to connect with our partners to promote a shared vision for a free and open #IndoPacific composed of independent, strong and prosperous nations."
Wheels up for my trip to India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia. Grateful for the opportunity to connect with our partners to promote a shared vision for a free and open #IndoPacific composed of independent, strong, and prosperous nations. pic.twitter.com/IoaJvtsHZC— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) October 25, 2020
The current scenario of international relations is dominated by US-China rivalry which escalated last year due to the intense trade war and created fissures between the relations of the two countries. The rift is reminiscent of the cold war times. The coronavirus pandemic, China's assertiveness in the South China sea and the trade deficit of the US with China are some of the few problems that have antagonised the United States. The US President has often taken digs at China on international platforms, solidifying the rift. Hence the US is looking to expand its ties with countries like India to tackle China.
The 2+2 dialogue is a mechanism to establish diplomatic and fruitful conversation between the two countries' respective ministers of external affairs and defence. India has had such a similar dialogue with all Quad countries, which is a group of four countries -- India, US, Japan and Australia, formed in 2017. Quad, which is a concert of democracies, is an informal strategic forum aimed at strengthening the Indo Pacific and to tackle the assertiveness of China in the region.
The first edition of the India-US 2+2 dialogue was held in New Delhi in September 2018 after the mechanism was approved by the head of state of both countries. The second edition was conducted in December 2019 in Washington.