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US deputy secretary of state Stephen Biegun.ap
US deputy secretary of state Stephen Biegun.ap

Shringla, Biegun discuss the agenda for next ‘2+2’ talks

Foreign secretary Harsh Shringla met visiting US deputy secretary of state Stephen Biegun to pave the way for the “2+2” talks slated for 26-27 October.

India and the US on Tuesday discussed possible takeaways from the third “2+2" talks between the foreign and defence ministers of the two countries scheduled for later this month in New Delhi that could also include the signing of a strategic pact to share geospatial defence intelligence.

Foreign secretary Harsh Shringla met visiting US deputy secretary of state Stephen Biegun to pave the way for the “2+2" talks slated for 26-27 October. It is seen as the last major diplomatic engagement for the Trump administration before the 3 November polls. Shringla “highlighted convergences and shared interests between India-US. Both sides reiterated their commitment to the Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership," foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava tweeted.

“FS @harshvshringla and US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun reviewed status & progress of our diverse and growing bilateral relationship. They discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in the UN, especially during India’s membership of the UNSC for the period 2021-2022," Srivastava said in a second post.

On the bilateral front, a key takeaway at the “2+2" talks is expected to be the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) that will allow the US to share satellite and other sensor data with India to improve the Indian military’s targeting and navigation capabilities. This is the fourth “foundational agreement" to be signed between the two nations after pacts initialled in 2002 (to safeguard shared military information), 2016 (sharing of logistics), and 2018 (a secure-communication pact).

Also expected to top the agenda of the “2+2" talks is how India and the US can meet the challenge posed by a rising China. New Delhi is engaged in a prolonged standoff with China along their common border in Ladakh. At a meeting of the “Quad" group of countries in Tokyo last week, the US called out China’s belligerence in the region but the other three countries, India, US, Japan and Australia did not mention Beijing by name though they all expressed concerns over China’s aggressive actions along its periphery and beyond.

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