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2+2 dialogue: Jim Mattis holds bilateral meeting with Nirmala Sitharaman

The much awaited 2+2 dialogue between India and US has kicked off in New Delhi, even as political fire rages on in USA over an annonymous Trump staffer’s op-ed in New York Times.

Mattis and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday to hold the inaugural two-plus-two dialogue with their Indian counterparts Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. As first order of the day, Mattis and Sitharaman are holding meeting with their officials. US is likely to press India to buy more weapons from them. Discussions on Asia-Pacific is likely to be big part of the meeting.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Wednesday said he is ready to discuss “anything” during the inaugural two-plus-two dialogue and anticipates that the issue of the purchase of S-400 Russian missile system would be brought up by the Indian delegation.

The focus of the dialogue will be to deepen strategic ties and resolve differences over India’s defence engagement with Russia and crude oil import from Iran “Certainly, the S-400s will probably be brought up. I anticipate it’ll be brought up by India, by the way,” Mattis told reporters travelling with him to India. The two-plus-two dialogue is scheduled for September 6 and 7.

Asserting that India and the US will have a very transparent dialogue, Matttis said it is a dialogue between two co-equal and sovereign nations. “We will discuss anything that they bring up, and certainly, there’ll be issues we bring up,” he said. Responding to questions on India’s decision to buy S-400 Russian missile defense system, Mattis told reporters that freedom meant that at times, nations did not agree with each other.

“That doesn’t mean we can’t be partners. That doesn’t mean we don’t respect the sovereignty of those nations. So I’m sure it will come up there, but it’s right that I not speak here before I’ve even heard their point. So first, I want to listen to my counterpart,” he said.

Mattis said India and the US had been discussing how they can more openly communicate back and forth.

“Because of the sensitivity of some of the technology, we have to know that when we share this with another like-minded nation, that we can keep it secure, just like we do when the Navy talks to the US Army. It no different,” he said.

“You maintain security over this kind of technology. We’ll be talking to them about this. There’s been a lot of work done by our staffs. They have their own processes for approval of something like this. We have ours. No two nations have exactly the same authority levels or organisations that have to check off – check the box, and also, we’ll see where each other’s at on that,” he said.

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