Trends US Elections As On 29 Oct 20 courtesy: https://ig.ft.com/us-election-2020/
2 PLUS 2 INDO – US DIALOGUE – READING BETWEEN THE LINES
What is 2 plus 2 Framework?
Japan prefers the mechanism of 2 plus 2 dialogue to engage a country diplomatically. It has perfected this art to a finesse. Taking a cue from Japan, India since 2010 adopted the same model however restricted itself only to Japan. The outcome of 2 plus 2 talks with Japan has been very encouraging. For example holding of bilateral and trilateral Naval Exercises such as Malabar 2019 and MINEX, between Indian navy, Japanese Maritime Self Defence Forces (JMSDF) and the US. Similarly, participation in exercises ‘Dharma Guardian’ and ‘Shinyuu Maitri’ in 2018 and COPE India between Army and Air Forces of India, Japan and the US. On the diplomatic front when India refused to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) at the Hongkong summit, many thought that Japan would insist on India to join the RCEP. But displaying understanding of India’s concerns Japan voiced that it would not be a part of RCEP unless India is on board. Further, there are multiple areas in defence technology where cooperation between the two countries are on the anvil such as Visual Simultaneous Localization & Mapping (SLAM) Based Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and Augmentation Technology for UGV/robotics. Also, we may see 30% manufacturing of an amphibious plane Shin Maywa US-2 and acquisition of an armed Sea Guardian drone. Because of the success of the 2 plus 2 mechanism with Japan, India has adopted this dialogue framework with the US also. The current 2 plus 2 dialogue was aimed to deepen the Indo – US relations. The current, 2 plus 2 dialogue between India and US is the third edition in the series. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence Mark T. Esper visited India from 26 to 27 Oct 2020. The aim was to strengthen regional security cooperation, defence information sharing, military to military interaction and defence trade. Highlights of the joint statement issued on 27 October 20 by Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India from national security perspective are first elevation of relationship to Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership. Second, resolve to strengthen cooperation in the development of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, ventilators, and other essential medical equipment. Third, commitment to maintaining a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific built on a rules-based international order; underpinned by ASEAN centrality, rule of law, sustainable and transparent infrastructure investment, freedom of navigation and over flight, mutual respect for sovereignty, and peaceful resolution of disputes. Fourth, expand joint capacity building efforts with partner countries in the Indo-Pacific. And participate in multilateral peacekeeping training exercises. Fifth, promoting a sovereign, peaceful, united, democratic, inclusive, stable, and secure Afghanistan, including support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. Six, a US promise of strong support for India’s permanent membership in a reformed UNSC and membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Seven, recounted the Major Defense Partnership (MDP) between India and the United States. They also commended the significant step of signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), enhanced maritime information sharing and maritime domain awareness. The two sides confirmed their commitment to build upon existing defence information-sharing at the joint-service and service-to-service levels and explore potential new areas of mutually beneficial cooperation. Eight, commitment to pursue increased cooperation between the Indian military and US Central Command and Africa Command, including broader participation in exercises and conferences, so as to promote shared security interests. Nine, two sides emphasized the importance of Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), and stated their intent to fast track projects under DTTI. Ten, cooperation in the sphere of defence innovation between the US and India was welcomed. The virtual meeting between the Indian Defence Innovation Organization (DIO- IiDEX) and US Defense Innovation United (DIU) in July 2020 came in for praise. They also looked forward to the inaugural Industrial Security Annex (ISA) Summit later this year which would further strengthen defence industrial cooperation between both countries. As part of bilateral ties, our Ministers noted with satisfaction the significant strides made under the four Pillars of Strategic Energy Partnership (SEP) covering Oil & Gas, Power and Energy Efficiency, Renewables and Sustainable Growth. They also appreciated the progress made under the India-US Gas Task Force and the launch of industry-led projects. They welcomed the announcement of new priorities and roadmap for each of the Pillars during the Ministerial meeting of the SEP held on July 17, 2020. With the objective of intensifying cooperation in the area of Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPRs), the Ministers welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in this regard. Eleven the Ministers welcomed the virtual convening of the 17th meeting of the India-US Counter Terrorism Joint Working Group and the 3rd Session of the India-US Designations Dialogue on September 9-10, 2020. They also reaffirmed their support for an early adoption of UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) that would advance and strengthen the framework for global cooperation and reinforce the message that no cause or grievance can ever justify terrorism. Twelve, two sides were looking forward to the launch of NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) satellite by 2022. Commitment to sharing Space Situational Awareness information, which will catalyze efforts to create the conditions for a safe, stable, and sustainable space environment. They also expressed the intent to continue the India-US Space Dialogue as well as discussions on areas of potential space defense cooperation.In summary, India has gained considerably from the dialogue. Especially in defence information sharing, signing of BECA, military to military interaction and extending this interaction to other countries of the QUAD Japan and Australia. This would further benefit India if QUAD is enhanced to include the important EU countries especially France. Without doubt, the dialogue is a positive development but are there are question marks on the outcome as to its success. What is going to be the impact of important international events such as the US presidential election and efficacy of QUAD and international conflict theatres such as Afghanistan and Middle East? A number of positives have come out from the dialogue for India, the most important being the signing of BECA and sharing of Geospatial Information. Pakistani media is abuzz and surprised with this development.