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2+2 dialogue: Indo US strategic partnership could get a leg up on September 6

2+2 dialogue: Indo-US strategic partnership could get a leg up on September 6

2+2 dialogue: Indo-US strategic partnership could get a leg up on September 6
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By Parikshit Luthra  Sept 5, 2018 9:09:06 AM IST (Updated)

US President Donald Trump’s decision to accept India’s Republic Day invite could depend on how successful this dialogue is.

India is gearing up for the highest level engagement with the United States this year, the inaugural 2+2 dialogue. The discussions will focus on further elevating India's strategic and defence partnership, trade, US sanctions on Russia and Iran, counter-terrorism and wider discussions on regional and global issues.

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US President Donald Trump’s decision to accept India’s Republic Day invite could depend on how successful this dialogue is.
What Is 2+2 Dialogue? 
Simply put, 2+2 dialogue means bringing together foreign and defence ministers of both India and the US and making all four of them sit across the table to streamline foreign policy and defence cooperation.
The US holds 2+2 dialogues with a select group of countries including Japan and Australia. Diplomatic sources say this indicates the special relationship India shares with the US.
Secretary of state Mike Pompeo will hold a one on one discussion with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and secretary of defence James Mattis will have a one on one discussion with defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
All four leaders will then sit together at the Ministry of External Affairs to discuss the entire bilateral partnership.
Chairman of the joint chief of staff committee Joseph Dunford will also be in New Delhi on September 6.
Discussions On Trade
Bilateral trade in goods and services stands at $126.1 billion with a trade deficit of $27.9 billion which Donald Trump wants India to correct. There will be comprehensive discussions on US tariffs on aluminium and steel and United States Trade Representative's (USTR) decision to review GSP(Generalised System of Preferences) benefits to India.
Source told CNBC TV18 that India and US may be working on a trade package to sort out these issues. “We are in the process of listing out issues which are relevant to both sides in terms of market access," a government official said. "We hope we can work out something which is reasonable."
Officials would also like to emphasize that India has managed to reduce the trade deficit by $1.5 billion and perhaps for the first time India has become an importer of oil and gas from the US.
“In this calendar year we would have imported 2.5 billion worth of oil and gas from the US and we would like the US to acknowledge that”, said people familiar with the matter.
Discussions On Iran
India would like to sensitise both Pompeo and Mattis that India is an energy reliant country and 83 percent the country's energy needs are met by imports and 25 percent of our total oil imports come from Iran.
Officials would also like to tell the US that Indian refineries are dependent on certain kind of crude. India would be hoping for a waiver before US embargo on Iranian oil kicks in on November 4.
Defence Partnership
The US granted India the 'major defence partner' status in 2016. Recently India got STA1 authorisation from US department of commerce which would allow a license-free export regime for 90 percent of dual-use items.
Discussions on early conclusion of communications and security agreement, the appointment of naval liaison in Bahrain and establishment of a hotline between defence ministers’ are likely to take place during 2+2.
Both are the countries are also expected to hold comprehensive discussions on the military to military cooperation, defence preparedness, maritime domain awareness and co-development.
Road Ahead For Import of S400 Air Defence System
India has been asking US for a waiver from sanctions on Russia so as to allow import of the S400 air defense system. Sources say this is not on the agenda for 2+2 but India may convey that the US should keep in mind the larger strategic relationship while taking any decision on a waiver for allies.
Discussions on Indo-Pacific
India would like to understand how the new US administration sees the Indo-Pacific relation. India sees this as a growth corridor for the next 20-30 years and would like to explore ways to ensure peace and security in the region, sources said.
India would like to gauge the US administration’s views on the new government in Pakistan as Mike Pompeo would be arriving in Delhi after visiting Islamabad. It also expects wide-ranging discussions on counterterrorism and India hopes to urge the US to designate more terror entities.
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