As the India-US 2+2 ministerial began on Friday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said both nations find each other in agreement on strategic issues, including countering China’s aggression.
He termed the partnership between the two nations as “critical for ensuring a free, open and rules-bound Indo-Pacific region.” Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar led the Indian delegation at the 2+2 ministerial talks in which the US side was led by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Mr Singh said, “…The India-US defence relationship has evolved into a strategic partnership characterised by mutual trust, shared values, and a growing recognition of common interests in maintaining regional and global security. We increasingly find ourselves in agreement on strategic issues, including countering China’s aggression, promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific, and addressing regional security challenges.”
“We share a focus on maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region. Recognising the criticality of safeguarding vital sea lanes and promoting stability, our teams are working on substantive outcomes,” Singh said.
India and China have been engaged in a standoff for the past three years, with relations deteriorating at all levels due to tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The two sides have held 19 rounds of talks so far to address the boundary issues in eastern Ladakh since 2020, post-Chinese aggression there.
Defence Minister Singh further emphasised that the strategic convergence should guide both India and US to new domains, further expanding the collaboration.
“We are charting new pathways of cooperation by pursuing stronger defence, industrial engagement, easing of technology restrictions, resilient supply chains in all domains, and maritime security…,” Mr Singh said.
Ahead of the bilateral, Singh stated, “In spite of various emerging geopolitical challenges, we need to keep our focus on important and long-term issues. Our partnership is critical for ensuring a free, open, and rules-bound Indo-Pacific region. We look forward to closely working with the US across the domains of capability and for partnerships that can address emerging challenges. I look forward to engaging and enriching discussions today.”
Mr Singh emphasised that defence remains one of most important pillars of the India-US bilateral relationship.
Durinng his opening remarks at the fifth edition of the India-US ‘2+2’ defence and foreign ministerial dialogue, Singh welcomed Mr Blinken and Mr Austin and said that Indo-US relationship was witnessing a growing convergence.
“The India-US bilateral relationship has seen a growing convergence of strategic interests and enhanced defence, security, and intelligence cooperation. Defence remains one of the most important pillars of our bilateral relationship. Your visit to India is at a time when India and the US are closer than ever before,” Mr Singh said.
US Secretary of Defence Austin noted that India and the US have over the past year made “impressive gains” in building a defence partnership.
He called it “important” that India and the US exchange views, find common goals, and deliver for the people of two nations in the face of urgent global challenges.