U.S. President DonaldTrump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi walk out of the Oval Office ofthe White House to make a joint statement in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday,June 26, 2017. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

On India-U.S. 2+2 Agenda: Russia, Iran And Much More

India and the U.S. will meet on Sept. 6 for the first round of what’s called the ‘2+2 dialogue’ to discuss how to deepen and expand strategic and defence cooperation.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will meet with Defence Secretary James Mattis, while External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will meet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

This is the highest form of interaction between India and the United States.
Ashok Sajjanhar, Former Indian Ambassador

On the agenda will also be India’s request for an exemption from sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which would kick in because of India’s purchase of Russian weaponry. India will also be negotiating some leeway for oil purchases from Iran, which are also under the U.S. sanctions.

“These are contentious issues which have emerged in recent months and will be the focus of discussions,” said Sajjanhar.

Pompeo chose to downplay some of these issues before leaving for India. “They will certainly come up, but I don't think they will be the primary focus of what it is we are trying to accomplish here,” newswire PTI quoted him as saying on Tuesday.

Sanctions will be important, according to Rajesh Rajagopalan, professor at School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, but talks will go beyond these issues.

Future military cooperation in Asia Pacific and India-Pacific with the U.S. and other partners like Australia, Japan and Singapore may also be on the agenda. The 2+2 talks also come at a time when India and the U.S. are locked in trade skirmishes with tariffs imposed on both sides, but the points of cooperation outweigh the negatives, according to Rajagopalan.

Ultimately, the reasons why we are becoming closer to the U.S. is because we have our needs which is primarily to do with China’s rise and the pressure that puts on us.
Raja Rajagopalan, Professor, School of International Studies, JNU