What are the 2+2 talks and what do they mean for US and India?

Published on Oct 25, 2020 05:17 PM IST

The 2+2 talks between US and India are part of the larger military cooperation and are crucial for both India and the US.

A man holds the flags of India and the US while people take part in the 35th India Day Parade in New York.(REUTERS)
A man holds the flags of India and the US while people take part in the 35th India Day Parade in New York.(REUTERS)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | Byhindustantimes.com | Edited by Mallika Soni

India and the United States are set to meet for the third ministerial 2+2 talks to be attended by external affairs minister S Jaishankar and defence minister Rajnath Singh and US secretary of state Michael Pompeo along with defence secretary Mark Esper in New Delhi on October 26 and October 27. The talks are part of the larger military cooperation between New Delhi and Washington and are crucial for both India and the US.

Here’s what you need to know about the 2+2 talks:

What are ‘2+2 talks’?

‘2+2 talks’ is a term adopted in foreign diplomacy that implies a dialogue between two countries’ defence and external affairs ministries. India holds such talks with Japan and Australia as well but at the foreign secretary and defence secretary level. It is only with the US that India holds ministerial-level talks.

Also read: India-US 2+2 dialogue to focus on regional security cooperation and defence information-sharing

What happened in the previous 2+2 talks?

India and the US have met for two 2+2 talks - one held in New Delhi in September 2018 and the second held in Washington DC in December 2019. The talks resulted in agreements known as Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA). LEMOA allows both countries to have access to each other’s designated military facilities for refuelling and replenishment. COMCASA is an Indian specific agreement, which provides a legal framework for the transfer of communication security equipment with no disruption in supply from the US to India and also provides access to real-time classified information from the American navy for the Indian Navy.

What is on the table during the 2+2 talks now?

The focus of the dialogue will be the Indo-Pacific region and India’s neighbourhood. Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) is likely to be signed in these talks and it will enable India to use American expertise on geospatial intelligence and also help India’s weapon and automate hardware systems.

What do these talks mean for India and US?

For New Delhi, the talks come at a time of a bitter standoff with China at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and for the US they come at the cusp of the presidential elections scheduled to be held on November 3 in which the incumbent President Donald Trump has taken a tough stance on China. Therefore, for both the countries China and its aggressive rise is the “area of common interest”. Although strategic experts have been wary of the outcome of the talks as they are the last major diplomatic engagement before the US presidential polls.

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