Opening Remarks at the U.S.-India 2+2 Dialogue
Secretary of State
Secretary Pompeo and I met briefly yesterday upon his arrival in New Delhi on his first official visit here. Secretary Mattis has been here earlier, and it is my pleasure to welcome you to my ministry. Both of you are strong supporters of the India-U.S. relationship, and it is only right that we are meeting in New Delhi with the both of you.
The 2+2 mechanism has been created in accordance with a decision taken by Prime Minister Modi and President Trump in Washington, D.C., in June last year. It reflects the growing maturity of our strategic partnership. It will facilitate even greater synergies in our engagement in defense and economically (inaudible).
India attaches the highest priority to its strategic partnership with the United States. It is a partnership based on shared democratic values, growing convergence of interests, and robust people-to-people linkages. We see the United States as the partner of choice in our efforts to achieve rapid social economic transformation of India. We believe that the U.S. continued economic prosperity and leadership in world affairs is in India’s interest.
Similarly, India’s great political, economic, and security role can reinforce U.S. efforts to promote stability in the region. Partnership between India and the U.S. will not only benefit our two peoples but is also necessary to effectively tackle regional and global challenges. As Prime Minister Modi described at this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue, it is, I quote, “a global strategic partnership [which] continues to deepen across the extraordinary breadth of our relationship.”
During their meeting last year in June, Prime Minister Modi and President Trump set the future direction for our relationship. I am happy to note that there has been significant progress in all of the areas of our engagement, however the potential for what we can do together is a lot more. I am confident that our discussions today and the decisions that we will take will help us unleash the untapped potential of our relations and further elevate the level of our partnership.
I would now recognize His Excellency, Secretary of State Mr. Pompeo, to make his opening remarks. This will be followed by opening remarks by my colleague, Defense Minister Sitharaman (inaudible), and then by Secretary of Defense Mr. Mattis.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Minister, thank you. Thank you for hosting us both. Thank you for hosting this important engagement. I am delighted to be making my first trip to India as the Secretary of State now 16 weeks into my time, and especially because I’m here for this important first 2+2 Strategic Dialogue between our two countries. It is a clear demonstration the United States places in terms of priority on the relationship between the United States and India.
Our partnership has been steadily growing since Prime Minister Modi visited the White House last June. President Trump is eager for it to continue, and he told Secretary Mattis and I that before we departed. We fully support India’s rise as a leading global power, and we welcome India’s equal commitment to our partnership.
Our two nations are united by shared values of democracy, respect for individual rights, and a shared commitment to freedom. Given those values, India and the United States have a natural starting point for advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific. We should continue to ensure the freedom of the seas and the skies; uphold the peaceful resolution of territorial maritime disputes; promote market-based economics; support good governance, fundamental rights, and liberties; and prevent external economic coercion.
We know the threats to stability that exist in the region, and the United States seeks to ensure that both of our peoples can live in peace and in freedom. For years now, our counterterrorism cooperation has deepened, with progress on terrorist designations and information sharing, and is solidified through regular bilateral counterterrorism joint working group meetings. I hope we can continue to make progress on counterterrorism today.
We also hope to discuss how India can further work with the United States to achieve the final, fully verifiable, denuclearization of North Korea, and we should explore ways to partner on holding this outlaw regime in Iran responsible for all of its malign activity.
Together our nations can achieve our shared vision of prosperity and security as we build a relationship that will help shape the 21st century.
Thank you, Madam Minister.
MINISTER SWARAJ: Thank you, Secretary Pompeo. Now I invite my colleague, (inaudible).
MINISTER SITHARAMAN: Thank you, Madam. Secretary James Mattis, Secretary Michael Pompeo. It is indeed a great pleasure to welcome both of you, Secretary Mattis and Secretary Pompeo, in Delhi this morning. I extend a warm welcome on behalf of the Ministry of Defense of India.
Today’s meeting marks a defining moment in our bilateral ties. The commencement of the first-ever ministerial 2+2 between India and the United States is a concrete manifestation of the bold vision of our leaders, Prime Minister Modi and President Donald Trump, to take the India-U.S. relationship to an even higher trajectory.
This meeting is also a reflection of the tremendous focus that we have made in developing our ties over the past few years. At the same time, it is a strong recognition of the immense potential of our bilateral partnership for the benefit of our peoples, the region, and beyond.
As Secretary Mattis and I agreed during our brief interaction this morning, defense cooperation has established itself as one of the most significant dimensions of our relationship. It is now a key driver of our strategic partnership. India-U.S. cooperation in the field of defense reflects the growing maturity of our partnership, which is also a testament to our shared democratic values and common interests of both of our great nations.
As we continue to make progress in our defense and security ties, with each step that brings our defense forces and our security entities closer to each other, we add to the growing layers of mutual trust and confidence. Today, India’s defense forces carry out more training and joint exercises with the United States than with any other foreign partner. We have acquired various advanced weapons platforms from the U.S. We are thus partners in building defense capability in the broadest sense of the term.
Together we are also putting in place an enabling form a framework of closer cooperation between our militaries and our defense establishments. With the announcement of the U.S. designation of India as a major defense partner of the United States and the recent decision to elevate India to STA Tier-1 status for access to advanced U.S. dual-use items, we are hopeful that our defense industry cooperation can also move forward faster in tandem with other dimensions of the defense partnership.
We are transitioning from a buyer-seller relationship to one that is more balanced, mutually beneficial, and sustainable. The Government of India has introduced major reforms to promote defense manufacturing in India, including the establishment of defense manufacturing corridor. I invite U.S. companies to become our active partners in this effort. We have identified cooperation in defense innovation as a major area of emphasis for the future. The Memorandum of Intent between our defense innovation agencies is the first significant step that we are making in this direction.
I look forward to our discussions today, and now would (inaudible) Secretary Mattis.
MINISTER SWARAJ: Thank you. Nirmala. Now I invite Secretary Mattis to deliver his opening remarks.
SECRETARY MATTIS: Well, Minister Swaraj and Minister Sitharaman, thank you for hosting this inaugural 2+2, and I echo your words: We embrace on the American side this opportunity, and we share in your confidence in strengthening this top-priority relationship.
At this point, I do want to express our condolences for the lives lost here in the Kerala floods, but I must also applaud the Indian military’s role in saving so many lives in the midst of that tragedy. Even today as we sit here, our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones.
In our two nations, as reservoirs of religious, cultural, and ethnic diversity, and as proud maritime peoples, we see the U.S.-India relationship as a natural partnership between the world’s two largest democracies, a partnership that is based on convergence of enduring strategic interests and shared respect for the rules-based order.
Our discussion today is a testament to the power of free peoples. I note that over seven decades ago this week, the United States established diplomatic relations with India, prior to its formal independence. Today, our partnership has become one of the most consequential in the region and in the world.
As Prime Minister Modi said at Shangri-La last June, “A commitment to common values must be shared…the foundation upon which we build a shared destiny.” The U.S. and India already have that foundation in our commitment to a safe, secure, prosperous, and free Indo-Pacific region, where sovereignty of all nations is respected, international norms are upheld, disputes are resolved peacefully, and nations freely transit international waters and airspace, and further to borrow Prime Minister Modi’s words again, nations are free from impossible debt burdens imposed by others.
We welcome your insights on how to uphold our shared commitment to the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific, and certainly counterterrorism looms large. We note that 2018 marks 10 years since the Mumbai attacks, where innocent citizens from both of our nations as well as 10 other nations perished at the hands of international terrorism, and we do not forget.
India’s leadership in the world supports our shared democratic values regionally and globally. We also recognize the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, renaming U.S. Pacific Command to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. With India as a major defense partner, we are elevating our defense relationship to be on a par with our closest allies as we deepen the broader U.S.-India relationship, enhancing our interoperability, our defense trade, our technology innovation and industrial collaboration, and bolstering our people-to-people bonds.
I appreciate the transparency in our interactions because it reflects the trust we must share for both our nations to benefit from this relationship, and you will not find our military operating outside the framework of our diplomatic – set by our diplomats.
To conclude, fellow ministers, thank you again for your initiatives in seizing this unique moment with us, and I look forward to hearing your vision for our strategic partnership, and we are ready to work alongside you to take it upon a higher trajectory. Thank you.
MINISTER SWARAJ: Thank you, Secretary Mattis.