EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER JAISHANKAR: Good morning and welcome to the fifth India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. May I begin by inviting my senior colleague, the Minister of Defense Shri Rajnath Singh Ji, to make the opening remarks.
DEFENSE MINISTER SINGH: Good morning, Excellencies. Secretary Austin and Secretary Blinken, it is a great pleasure to receive you both in India. I fondly recall our last ministerial 2+2 meetings in Washington, D.C., in April 2022. I welcome both of you and your delegation of India.
The India-U.S. bilateral relationship has seen a growing convergence of strategic interests and an enhanced defense, security, and intelligence cooperation. Defense remains one of the most important pillars of our bilateral relationship. Your visit to India is at a time when India and U.S. are closer than ever before. In spite of various emerging geopolitical challenges, we need to keep our focus on the important and long-term issues. Our partnership is critical for ensuring a free, open, and a rules-bound Indo-Pacific region.
We look forward to closely working with the U.S. across the domains of defense for capability building and for an abiding partnership which can address emerging challenges. I look forward to engaging in enriching discussions today.
Now I invite my counterpart, Secretary Austin, to make his opening remarks. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY AUSTIN: Good morning. It’s great to be back in India. Secretary Blinken, Minister Singh, Minister Jaishankar, we’re meeting at a time of great momentum in the United States and India partnership. In the face of urgent global challenges, it’s more important than ever that the world’s two largest democracies exchange views, find common goals, and deliver for our people.
We’ve made impressive gains in building our major defense partnership over the past year, and that will help keep us – help us contribute even more together to the cause of peace and stability. We’re integrating our industrial bases, strengthening our interoperability, and sharing cutting-edge technology.
The scope of our cooperation is vast. As our ambassador is fond of saying, it stretches from seabed to space. And of course the strength of our partnership is rooted in the people-to-people ties that are at the heart of our longstanding friendship. Together our diplomats, entrepreneurs, and students are expanding our partnership in new domains, including clean energy, artificial intelligence, and semiconductors. Our increasingly strong ties give us all hope for the future of this partnership and for our common efforts toward a more secure world.
So I look forward to today’s discussions and to an ambitious agenda that will keep moving our partnership into the future. Thank you.
EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER JAISHANKAR: Thank you, Secretary Austin. Colleagues, this visit is part of an intense diplomatic engagement between our two countries, and its highlight this year was the prime minister’s historic state visit to the United States in June, which has truly opened a new chapter in our relationship. President Biden’s visit to Delhi in September contributed immensely as well to the positive trajectory of our ties. His support was key to ensuring productive outcomes at the G20 Summit.
The dialogue today will be an opportunity to advance the vision of our respective leaders, building a forward-looking partnership while we construct a shared global agenda. In the 2+2, we will undertake, as we have done before, a comprehensive overview of cross-cutting strategic, defense, and security ties, technology and supply chain collaborations, and people-to-people exchanges.
Our meeting takes place even as we make rapid strides in all aspects of our bilateral agenda. Our trade is today in excess of 200 billion U.S. dollars; FDI is rising in both directions; 270,000 Indian students study in the United States; and we have a diaspora of 4.4 million. We are exploring domains such as critical technologies, civil outer space collaboration, and critical minerals, even while consolidating established domains. Raksha Mantri Shri has highlighted new elements of our defense cooperation, including industry collaboration and innovations.
A key focus of our discussions today will be the Indo-Pacific region. As we all know, India and U.S. are key members of the Quad, which is scheduled to meet at the leaders level early next year in India. Similarly, we are also engaged in other plurilateral frameworks which reflect our strategic convergences, such as the IPEF, I2U2, and the recently launched IMEC.
In the context of the ongoing global developments, I look forward to exchanging views about developments in West Asia – Middle East – and Ukraine, amongst others.
Once again, I welcome you, Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin, and laud both of you for your friendship and for your support for our ties.
May I now request Secretary Blinken to deliver his opening remarks.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Jai, thank you so much to you, to Minister Singh, to my friend Lloyd Austin. We’re both grateful for your hospitality, for your partnership, and for this opportunity to join you for what is now the fifth U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue.
When President Biden hosted Prime Minister Modi at the White House in June, both of our leaders set out a very ambitious agenda to build an even stronger and even more comprehensive strategic partnership that delivers for our people as well as for the region and, we believe, for the world.
And together, we have been taking very concrete steps to deliver on the vision that our two leaders put forward. 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.
One significant way we’re doing that is by enhancing maritime domain awareness: sharing commercial satellite data with countries in the region to boost their capacity, for example, to combat illegal fishing, piracy, drug trafficking. We’re also coordinating humanitarian relief and disaster response efforts in the Indo-Pacific.
We’re harnessing together the power of innovation to make our economies more resilient and to make our communities more secure, while expanding inclusive economic opportunity. That’s evident in the cooperation on semiconductors and advanced biotechnology; on our unprecedented investments in deploying clean energy at scale in our countries as well as across the region; and our joint research and exploration projects in space.
We’re bolstering our partnership in international peace and security, and specifically, working to promote the rules-based order and uphold the principles at the heart of the United Nations Charter: sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence. Our defense cooperation – which we’re strengthening again today – is a key pillar of that work.
Finally, we’re deepening the remarkable ties between our people, which is really at the heart of everything – exploring new educational exchanges, even building on what you’ve already described; steps to facilitate travel between our countries; reducing visa wait times. If there is one thing we’ve learned over the recent decades, it’s that when Indians and Americans study together, work together, collaborate together, the possibilities for progress are infinite.
It’s that sense of possibility that animates our enduring focus on this partnership and on the region that we share. Indeed, this trip is part of an intensive period of American diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific.
We are living, as the Secretary of Defense said, in an incredibly complex and difficult moment – no shortage of shared challenges that require our attention, require our determination, require our collaboration. And it only underscores how vital the U.S.-India partnership is – and how important our efforts are to further strengthen it, including through the dialogue today.
So thank you to our hosts, thank you to our colleagues, thank you to our friends.
EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER JAISHANKAR: Thank you, Tony. May I now request our media colleagues to kindly move on so that we can then begin our closed-door session.