India and the United States discussed concluding pacts on technology, people-to-people contact and parliamentary exchanges, besides the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for geospatial cooperation and aligning positions on security matters during the forthcoming ‘2 plus 2’ talks between the foreign ministers and defence ministers of the two countries in Delhi on October 26-27.
These prospective deliverables were discussed when the visiting US deputy secretary of state Stephen Biegun held wide-ranging consultations with foreign secretary Harsh V Shringla on Tuesday, said people aware of the matter.
The two senior officials also discussed the situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), said the people. While the US highlighted its position on China, India explained engagements with China to end the impasse, they said.
Biegun also met the foreign minister and the national security adviser. He is expected to meet the defence secretary on Wednesday before flying off to Bangladesh.
Shringla and Biegun are also understood to have discussed the Bangladesh situation. Shringla emphasised the need to align positions on India’s eastern neighbour due to the geopolitical significance of the country in the Bay of Bengal, according to those in the know.
October has witnessed a series of engagements between India and the US, beginning with the Quadrilateral in Tokyo, followed by Biegun’s trip and the 2 plus 2 meet later this month.
On Monday, Biegun had pitched for “vision of Pax Indo-Pacifica”, describing it as a “region at peace, protected and made prosperous in equal measure by those who comprise the Indo-Pacific”.
Speaking at the fourth edition of the India US forum along with Shringla, Biegun said, “Together we stand for a pluralistic vision that will ensure that our countries, and all the region’s diverse countries, can thrive as sovereign and prosperous nations in a free and open Indo-Pacific. One might call this a vision of a Pax Indo-Pacifica.”
Pax refers to a zone of peace led by major powers.
Addressing the forum Shringla said, “We have come a long way in defining areas of convergence in our political and strategic thinking and this forum provides us an opportunity to continue this process.” He further said, “The current dialogue will also focus on expanding our understanding of each other’s strategic thinking on areas such as the Indo-Pacific.”
Describing the India-US relationship as a forward-looking approach, the foreign secretary said that renewables, materials, biotech, space, cyber, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and water were just some of the new drivers of this relationship.
“I have had the privilege of working directly on this relationship in Washington DC,” said Shringla. “I can attest to the fact that our companies are investing more in each other’s markets, our universities teach and research more with each other, our defence and security establishments work closely together, our innovators solve problems together, our healthcare systems are developing convergences, and our counterterrorism and law enforcement officials support each other.”