Home >Politics >Policy >Postponing of India-US 2+2 meeting indicates new complication in bilateral ties: Report

New Delhi: A decision by the US late last month to postpone a key meeting of defence and foreign ministers of India and the United States for talks with North Korea is being described as the latest “complication" in ties between the two countries trying to open a new chapter in bilateral relations.

According to a recent report in the Washington Post , India and the US last year agreed to hold a “first-of-its-kind mini-summit that would bring together the US secretaries of state and defense with their Indian counterparts" but the two times its been firmed up, “something has gone awry on the US side."

With the Trump administration dealing with a “full-blown trade war with China" and in the midst of risky negotiations with North Korea, “it is unclear when the meeting between four American and Indian officials will take place," says the report.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and defence secretary James Mattis were to sit with their Indian counterparts Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman on 6 July in Washington to iron out some bilateral crimps in the relationship that included US sanctions on Iran and their impact on India as well as the consequences of the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act that, if implemented in its extreme form, has the potential to adversely affect India’s defence purchases from its traditional partner, Russia.

But late last month, Pompeo called up Swaraj to tell her that the “2+2" meeting scheduled for 6 July was off and that the two sides would reschedule the talks in the coming months. This marked the second time that the meeting was postponed. Originally, the talks were slated for 18 April but had to be called off after the exit of the then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

According to the Washington Post report, “it appears that for the Trump administration, arranging a new dialogue with India is a logistical challenge and not its highest priority."

And this is important given that “there is no shortage of items for the two countries to discuss" which includes countering China’s influence in Asia and deepening their cooperation in matters of security, the report said. Then there were prickly issues on the trade front given the India raising tariffs on some US products in retaliation for the United States hiking duties on steel and aluminium, the report noted.

People in the know of developments in New Delhi earlier this week said that the “2+2" talks would be rescheduled in the coming months and that India US ties were proceeding along a predictable path without problems. “This (North Korea) is the number one priority for the United States so it (the postponement) is understandable. Both sides are already working in the next set of dates," one of the people cited above said.

“By and large all other cooperation is on track...on the defence and security track and on the commerce track, our sense is that we are moving along the lines that both sides have agreed upon," the person cited above said.

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