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Secretary of Defense Mattis' Remarks at India 2+2 Joint Press Conference

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Minister Swaraj and Minister Sitharaman – thank you for the warm hospitality and the professional discussions that we have had here today. It is a pleasure to be back in New Delhi among friends representing the United States alongside Secretary of State Pompeo.

Minister Sitharaman – I would just wholeheartedly concur with how you characterized the defense relationship in your statement just now.

Today’s fruitful discussion illustrated the value of continued collaboration between these two co-equal democracies. The strong relationship between the world’s two largest democracies did not begin with those of us sitting here before you; we inherited it, and now we ensure it is even stronger when we pass it to our successors on a higher trajectory than we received it.

Since India gained its independence in 1947, our nations have shared a fundamental respect and love of freedom. Just three years after India’s independence, Prime Minister Nehru visited the United States, in his words, and I quote, “on a voyage of discovery of the mind and heart of America.” Today, Secretary Pompeo and I bring the same spirit that Prime Minister Nehru carried to Washington almost seventy years ago, promoting the “cooperation which… both our countries earnestly desire.”

Today’s successful and highly productive meeting – the first ever 2+2 between our nations at the ministerial level – has further bolstered our strong defense relationship, as you just heard.

We reiterated our highest respect for each other’s sovereignty and committed to work together for a safe, secure, prosperous and free Indo-Pacific, one that is underpinned by the rule of law.

We appreciate India’s role as a stabilizing force on the region’s geographic frontlines. Your nation understands better than many: peace and prosperity are only attainable when all respect the principles of territorial integrity, freedom of navigation and freedom from coercion – all of these are fundamental to the rules-based international order. Only then, to borrow Prime Minister Modi’s words, can “nations small and large prosper… free and fearless in their choices.”

We will continue working together to enhance and expand India’s role as a primary Major Defense Partner to elevate our relationship to a level commensurate with our closest allies and partners.

Today, we took, as you know, a significant step towards that goal by signing the communications compatibility and security agreement. The landmark agreement deepens our military-to-military cooperation and our ability to share the most advanced defense technology, making us both stronger.

In addition, we agreed to increase and expand our engagement in the maritime domain with a new tri-service exercise.

Secretary Pompeo and I also gained insights on a range of issues, from DPRK sanction enforcement to counterterrorism cooperation, recognizing that both our nations have endured the effects of senseless terrorist attacks, like those ten years ago in Mumbai, which killed innocents from more than a dozen nations. We remember those lives lost as we approach tenth anniversary of the attacks this November.

Today, the steps we took will pave the way ahead for an even closer military relationship. Our meeting signified the bright future ahead for our two nations, indicating the growing trust we share as strategic partners.

We look forward to meeting with Prime Minister Modi this afternoon, and welcome the opportunity to thank him for his strong leadership and to discuss the way ahead. Thank you very much.