US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense chief Mark Esper on Tuesday met National Security Adviser Ajit Doval to discuss challenges of strategic importance for the two countries. The two sides highlighted the need to take forward shared objectives and build capabilities across all domains, people familiar with the matter said.
Mike Pompeo is the country with Esper for the two-plus-two dialogue, his first stop in a four-nation tour to drive the Trump administration’s anti-China message that will later take him to Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia. At all his meetings, according to reports in the US, Pompeo is expected to build support for countries to push back in Chinese assertiveness.
Indian officials said the two sides did also speak about India’s military stand-off with China’s People’s Liberation Army that has continued for 175 days and led to bloodshed as well in June.
Officials said NSA Doval, Pompeo and Esper extensively discussed ways to deepen the relationship between the two countries and beyond to ensure a safe, stable and rule based regional and global security environment, an oblique reference to China that has driven India, United States, Japan and Australia as part of QUAD, or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.
US President Donald Trump has, right from the beginning, worked closely with India over the last four years to deepen military ties between the two countries in an effort to isolate China. In February this year, the two countries had sealed defence deals with US $ 3 billion.
Pompeo and Esper had opened their India visit with talks with their counterparts. External affairs minister S Jaishankar who met Pompeo last evening tweeted that relations between the emerging allies had “grown substantially in every domain”. They agreed the US-India partnership is “critical to the security and prosperity of both countries, the Indo-Pacific region, and the world,” according to a US statement.
Pompeo and Esper sealed BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) at their “two-plus-two” talks with Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday morning that will enable the US to share geo-spatial intelligence and give India access to sophisticated missile technology.