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India-US 2+2 dialogue to be held in Delhi on September 6

India-US 2+2 dialogue to be held in Delhi on September 6The inaugural ‘twoplus-two’ dialogue between India and the US will take place here on September 6, the external affairs ministry said on Friday. The strategic top-level talks, agreed upon by US President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June last year, were put off by the US twice this year.

"Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Raksha Mantri (defence minister) Nirmala Sitharaman will host the US Secretary of State, Michael R Pompeo, and US Secretary of Defence, James Mattis, in New Delhi on 6 September 2018, for the inaugural 2+2 dialogue," a spokesperson for the ministry said.

“The 2+2 meeting will cover a broad range of bilateral, regional and global issues of shared interest, with a view to strengthening strategic and security ties between the two countries.”

A similar announcement came from Washington. “The United States is pleased to announce that the inaugural US-India ‘2+2 dialogue’ will be held in New Delhi, India, on September 6,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement.

The US statement said Pompeo and Mattis “look forward to meeting with their Indian counterparts to discuss strengthening strategic, security and defence cooperation”, as the US and India jointly address challenges in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

Since June last year, the two countries have tried to schedule the dialogue several times. From the last quarter of 2017, it was pushed to April 18-19, 2018 (in Washington), but it had to be postponed as Pompeo was not yet confirmed as Secretary of State. It was then rescheduled for July 6, but was put off again as Pompeo had to travel to North Korea.

The bilateral ties have been under stress this year for a number of reasons— from Iranian oil imports and Russian defence supplies to visa issues and trade protectionism.

Meanwhile, a senior State Department official told reporters in Washington that the co-operation among quad countries — the US, Japan, India and Australia — would come up in next week’s US-Australia Ministerial Consultations in Palo Alto.

“I think it will publicly come up in the course of the discussions. We-’ve been encouraged by the two quad meetings that have taken place at the assistant secretary level to date, and we look forward to continuing holding these meetings,” the official said.

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