External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh are all slated to hold the ‘2+2’ ministerial dialogue with US counterparts, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday.
According to reports, Blinken and Austin will host the Indian delegation at 6.30 pm IST while the dialogue will begin at 11.30 pm IST, lasting for five hours. It will be followed by the signing of a pact on Space Situational Awareness at 1.45 am IST on Tuesday and later a joint press conference by the ministers of India and the US.
The talks are expected to revolve around the Russia-Ukraine war, bilateral ‘Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership’ between India and the US; defence, science and technology, as well as climate and public health (COVID). Issues like the building of supply chains, strengthening the global economy and India’s purchase of oil at a discounted price from Moscow is also on the agenda of the two countries.
The White House in a release earlier had confirmed that American President Joe Biden who will virtually interact with Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the 2+2 dialogue, will hold “consultations on the consequences of Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine and mitigating its destabilizing impact on global food supply and commodity markets.”
At a time when the India’s ties with Russia and neutral stand on the Russia-Ukraine war are being questioned on the international forum, the US may raise India’s stand on the Ukraine crisis and its decision to buy oil from Russia at a discounted rate at the meetings.
At the 2+2 meet, the ministers of the respective countries are expected to discuss and review bilateral cooperation across domains and discuss future strategies of cooperation for the two nations. This includes “enhancing people-to-people ties and education cooperation, building diverse, resilient supply chains for critical and emerging technology, scaling up our climate action and public health cooperation, and developing trade and investment partnership to increase prosperity for working families in both countries,” the office of the US State Department said in a press release.
The two sides are also likely to discuss the growing defence partnership between the nations.
Besides the 2+2 meeting, the defence and foreign ministers are also slated to hold bilateral meetings with their US counterparts. Key defence deals, defence industrial collaborate and capacity building through military-to-military engagements are likely to be main talking points between Singh and Austin at the Pentagon.
The purchase of 30 Predator armed drones, Navy tender for 26 decks-based fighter aircraft for INS Vikramaditya and to-be-commissioned aircraft carrier Vikrant will also be discussed by the two leaders.