At Mini 2 Plus, India, U.S. Review Progress on pacts

Prelims level : Mains level : Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
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What’s in the news?

  • The two sides also exchanged notes on developments in the Indo-Pacific and the region.

The Story

  • India and the U.S. reviewed the progress on finalising two key agreements during the 2+2 intercession meeting last week, apart from taking stock of the overall defence cooperation. The agreements are the Industrial Security Annex (ISA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA), a foundational agreement.
  • “This was to follow up on the 2+2 dialogue and to keep the official-level dialogue going. The two sides reviewed the decisions taken at 2+2 and also exchanged notes on developments in the Indo-Pacific and the region, broadly the countries of interest. Also, the bilateral defence cooperation was reviewed, especially the greater Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and the first tri-service exercise which will take place later this year,” an official source said.
  • The inaugural 2+2 dialogue was held last September. The third foundational agreement, Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement, was signed on the sidelines.
  • The U.S. has already shared a draft of BECA, the last foundational agreement to be signed. “We have a working draft [BECA] which we are looking at. It came some time before the Defence Minister’s visit to Washington,” the official said.
  • The ISA is particularly essential as the Indian industry looks for a greater role in defence manufacturing. It allows sharing of classified information from the U.S. government and American companies with the Indian private sector, which is so far limited to the Indian government and the defence public sector undertakings. The ISA draft is currently going through the official process in Washington.
  • The meeting was attended by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells and Assistant Secretary of Defence Randall Schriver from the U.S. and Joint Secretary of the External Affairs Ministry Gourangalal Das and Joint Secretary of the Defence Ministry Shambhu Kumaran from India.

What is 2 plus 2 dialogue?

  • A ‘two plus two dialogue’ is a term — adopted in foreign parleys — used for installation of a dialogue mechanism between two countries’ defence and external affairs ministries.
  • To put it simply, ‘two plus two dialogue’ is an expression used to indicate that two appointed ministers from each country, the ministers of defence and external affairs in this case, will meet up to discuss the two countries’ strategic and security interests.
  • The goal is to establish a diplomatic, yet fruitful, conversation between the two countries’ respective heads of defence and external affairs.
  • Japan is known to draw from the format ‘two plus two dialogue’ has to offer for years now. Japan leans on this mechanism for its interactions with the US, France, Russia and Australia. India, on the other hand, has established the 2+2 dialogue primarily with Japan. Both the countries have practised a ‘two plus two dialogue’ mechanism almost annually, held considerably before the meeting of the two prime ministers, since 2010.
  • This meeting between the external affairs and defence ministers of two countries helps amass the issues both the prime ministers need to tackle later in their scheduled meetings.

How will it benefit India?

  • It gives a new zeal to the bilateral relations with US as it declared Asia-Pacific region as Indo-Pacific. It will help sort out some international issues with U.S. for example poultry issue in WTO which is filed against India by US can be sort out with these engagements.
  • Asian region can be stabilised especially keeping in mind Afghanistan where both India and US share a common goal. At domestic level technology transfer can be negotiated if the existing pace continues.
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