The United States stands "with India in its efforts to defend its sovereignty and liberty," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday after the third edition of the 2+2 strategic dialogue that majorly focused on dealing with China's aggressive military behaviour in eastern Ladakh, Indo-Pacific and other parts of the world.
Severely critical of China, Pompeo cited the killing of Indian Army personnel in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in a clash with the Chinese military, and asserted that both India and the US are taking steps to strengthen cooperation against all threats and not just those posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
In the talks, the two countries inked a total of five agreements, including the long-negotiated Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) that will allow sharing of high-end military technology, classified satellite data and critical information between their militaries.
At a joint media briefing attended by his Indian counterpart, S Jaishankar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and US Defence Secretary Mark T Esper, Pompeo also mentioned about his visit to the National War Memorial and paying tributes to the 20 Indian soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the "world's largest democracy".
Defence Minister Singh said: "We also agreed that upholding the rules-based international order, respecting the rule of law and freedom of navigation in the international seas and upholding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states are essential," Singh said.
On his part, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar said the Indo-Pacific region was a "particular focus of our talks", adding a "multi-polar world must have a multi-polar Asia as its basis", comments seen as a clear articulation of India's position that China's dominance is not acceptable to it.
US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said the US stands "shoulder-to-shoulder" in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific for all, particularly in view of increasing aggression and destabilising activities by China, and noted that the bilateral defence cooperation is continuing to grow.
The external affairs minister said the discussions also covered developments in India's neighbouring countries.
"We made clear that cross-border terrorism is completely unacceptable. In Afghanistan, India's stakes in its security and stability are evident, as is our willingness to contribute to international efforts to that end," he said.