US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with India's External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi on Friday to discuss defense and strategic collaboration in the face of global challenges.
They were joined by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and India's Defense Minister Rajnath Singh for the talks.
The top US and Indian officials met for the annual "2+2 Dialogue" to discuss issues of concern, including security and strengthen bilateral ties. Friday's discussions focused on the Indo-Pacific region, China, and the Israel-Hamas conflict.
According to Jaishankar, the dialogue aims to establish "a forward-looking partnership" and help "construct a shared global agenda."
Defense, a key pillar of India-US bilateral ties
Blinken's tour of Asia is seen as a move to show unity with regional partners over Russia's war in Ukraine as well as to find common ground over the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
The secretary of state's tour has seen him visit key allies in Asia, such as South Korea and Japan. Washington and New Delhi have taken steps to boost their relations, but these are still mired by significant differences, especially in how to respond to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"We are promoting a free and open and prosperous Asia-Pacific, including by strengthening our partnership in the Quad with Japan and Australia," Blinken said at the start of the meeting.
US Defense Secretary Austin and Indian counterpart Singh are set to discuss a plan for industrial defense collaboration to accelerate technology partnership and joint production in various areas, according to the US Defense Department.
Singh highlighted defense as an important pillar of the India-US bilateral relationship and said despite "various emerging geopolitical challenges, we need to keep our focus on important and long-term issues."
Talks to build on Modi-Biden vision
The "2+2 Dialogue" seeks to build on the foundation laid by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Washington in June and the subsequent trip of US President Joe Biden to New Delhi for the G20 summit in September.
"Together we have been taking very concrete steps to deliver on the vision that our two leaders put forward," Blinken said.
Blinken also addressed the fallout between India and Canada that was sparked by allegations that India was involved in the murder of a Canadian citizen.
"These are two of our closest friends and partners and, of course, we want to see them resolving any differences or disputes that they have," Blinken said. "As a friend of both, we think it's very important that India work with Canada on its investigation, and that they find a way to resolve this difference in a cooperative way."
These annual meetings, which started in 2018, aim to align policy objectives and deepen defense ties between the two nations, especially regarding concerns over regional issues, including China's increasing assertiveness and the situation in Gaza and Ukraine.
Washington hopes a stronger defense partnership will gradually reduce India's reliance on its main military supplier, Russia.
ss/ab (AFP, AP, Reuters)