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India And US Conclude 2+2 Dialogue With Focus On Indo-Pacific And West Asia, Announce Production Of Combat Vehicles

The '2+2 Ministerial Dialogue' brings together the defence and foreign ministers of India and the United States annually to discuss issues of bilateral and mutual interests with the objective to improve defence and diplomatic ties between the two countries.

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at the 2+2 Dialogue.
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India and the United States on Friday concluded the 5th India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue that focussed among other subjects on the bilateral ties and evolving situation in the Indo-Pacific region, West Asia, and Ukraine.

Following the conclusion of the meetings, a joint production of a combat vehicle in India was also announced as part of the defence industrial cooperation. 

Under the '2+2' framework, the defence and foreign ministers of India and the United States meet annually to discuss issues of bilateral and mutual interests with the objective of improving defence and diplomatic ties between the two countries. The two countries take turns to host such meetings. 

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin arrived in Delhi to meet Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. Emphasising the focus of the countries on the Indo-Pacific, where both the countries have a common rival in China, Singh tweeted, "Attended the India-US 2 Plus 2 Ministerial Dialogue in New Delhi today. We had an engaging, enriching and fruitful discussion. India- US partnership is critical for ensuring a free, open and rules-bound Indo-Pacific region."

Talks on Ukraine, West Asia, Indo-Pacific

Besides the situation in the Indo-Pacific, where both India and the United States are on a common ground to tackle expansionist China, the two sides discussed the evolving situation in Ukraine and West Asia. 

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The West Asia, which the United States and the West calls the 'Middle East', is currently on the edge as Israel and the designated terrorist group Hamas are fighting a bloody war. There are fears that the war could escalate into a regional conflict and there are also concerns of the rising toll of the war. Hamas-run Gazan authorities say over 11,000 have been killed in Israeli attacks and estimates also say that as many as 1.5 millions Palestinians in Gaza have been displaced. 

In a tweet after their meetings, Jaishankar said, "Our agenda covered advancing our strategic partnership, including elevating our defense ties, moving forward in space and tech, future logistics cooperation and people to people contacts. Also exchanged perspectives on the Indo-Pacific, South Asia, West Asia and Ukraine conflict."

On his part, Blinken said that the two countries "continue to enhance our efforts in the Indo-Pacific and deepen our collaboration to promote security, democracy, and economic growth".

In his public remarks before the beginning of the closed-door meeting, Blinken said, "We are bolstering the partnership in international peace, security and specifically working to promote rules-based order, and uphold principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. Our defence cooperation is a key pillar of that work. We are promoting a free and open, prosperous, secure and resilient Indo-Pacific, including by strengthening our partnership through the Quad with Japan and Australia." 

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In his remarks, in a likely reference to the situations in Ukraine and West Asia, Singh said, "In spite of various emerging geopolitical challenges, we need to keep our focus on important and long-term issues. Our partnership is critical for ensuring a free, open and rules-bound Indo-Pacific region. We look forward to closely working with the US across the domains of defence for capability building and for abiding partnerships which can address emerging challenges.

Austin announces production of combat vehicle, mentions China

Following the conclusion of 2+2 dialogue, Austin announced the co-production of an infantry combat vehicle as part of the bilateral defence industrial cooperation.

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"We are working together to co-produce an armoured vehicle and that is extremely important," said Austin, as per PTI.

In response to a question, PTI reported that Austin said that the meetings covered a wide range of issues including security challenges from China, but emphasised that the India-US relationship is based on shared values and not solely based on the China challenge.

Asked about the project under which India will procure 31 MQ-9B drones from the US, Austin said it will be announced at the right time, reported PTI.

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