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U.S. Secretaries of Defense and State, Indian Ministers of Defense and External Affairs Provide Remarks at the Beginning of the U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue

FOREIGN MINISTER RAJNATH SINGH:  (Via interpreter)  Mr. Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, Dr. Mark Esper, Secretary of Defense, my esteemed colleague Dr. S. Jaishankar, distinguished members of the two delegations, a very warm welcome to both of the secretaries and your delegations.  Thank you for traveling all the way to New Delhi when traveling is still considered quite risky.

Thank you for your personal commitment to the India-USA partnership.  We are meeting today at an extraordinary time.  This pandemic is something that we have never experienced in our lifetime.  Our economies have suffered losses.  People have been affected by the pandemic, and a number of those have succumbed, which is a number that is far from insignificant.  We have implemented the whole-of-government approach to take industrial and service outputs back to normalcy.  We are providing relief to all those badly impacted by the pandemic.  We have to quickly make up for the losses as economic downturn will have both domestic and external consequences.

Excellencies, in the area of defense we are challenged by reckless aggression on our northern borders – (inaudible).*

* [As delivered by Indian Government English-language interpreter.]

SECRETARY MIKE POMPEO:  Thank you very much.  It’s an honor to be here with you (inaudible) for the third 2+2 (inaudible) all three.  Our friendship and commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific was clearly, clearly highly on display when we were in Tokyo this past week and a half for the Quad meeting that Minister Jaishankar and I had with our Australian and Japanese friends earlier this month.

Today is real opportunity for two great democracies like ours to grow closer, as I said on my trip to India last year when I called for a new age of ambition in our relationship.  I think we’ve delivered on that over this past year.  There is much more work to do for sure.

We have a lot to discuss today, from cooperating on defeating the pandemic that originated in Wuhan, to confronting the Chinese Communist Party’s threats to security and freedom, to promoting peace and stability throughout the region.

Together our two countries are building a better future for our people based on our shared set of values and our cultures, our defense ties, our scientific collaboration, and mutual prosperity.  I thank you for your leadership to each of you to build what ought to be a defining partnership of democracies in the 21st century.  Thank you.

SECRETARY MARK T. ESPER:  Minister Singh, Minister Jaishankar, I am honored to be here with you alongside Secretary Pompeo for our third 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue.  Today we meet in the midst of public health, economic, and security challenges around the globe, which the partnership between our two nations has better prepared us to address and deter.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the first U.S.-India Defense Framework and our third 2+2 Ministerial.  We have strengthened our defense and security partnership considerably since then, especially over the past year, during which we advanced our regional security, military-to-military, and information-sharing cooperation.  Our focus now must be on institutionalizing and regularizing our cooperation to meet the challenges of the day and uphold the principles of a free and open Indo-Pacific well into the future.

Today I look forward to discussing key opportunities to expand our efforts on regional security concerns and to advance our defense priorities, to include increasing information sharing and mutual logistics operations between our militaries.

To my Indian colleagues, thank you again for your gracious hospitality and friendship as we continue to strengthen this most consequential partnership between the world’s two largest democracies.  Thank you both.

MINISTER SUBRAHMANYAM JAISHANKAR:  (Inaudible) Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Esper, dear colleagues, it is a great pleasure to welcome the American delegation to India for the third 2+2 meeting between us.  As foreign minister, I attach great importance to this particular format of our interaction for three reasons.

First, we live in a more uncertain world with much greater stresses and sharper fault lines.  For most countries, that means giving security a greater salience in their foreign policy.  As major powers, this is even more so in our case.

Second, over the last two decades, our bilateral relationship has grown steadily in its substance, assets, and significance.  The accompanying comfort levels today enable us to engage much more intensively on matters of national security.  This format is clearly tailored for that purpose.

Third, at a time when it is particularly important to uphold a rules-based international order, the ability of India and the United States to work closely in defense and foreign policy has a larger resonance.

Together we can make a real difference when it comes to regional and global challenges, whether it is in respecting territorial integrity, promoting maritime domain awareness, counterterrorism, or creating prosperity.  I am therefore looking forward to our discussions today, and I am sure they will be very productive and fruitful.  Thank you.