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2+2 to focus on deepening US-India security cooperation: State Department

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WASHINGTON (PTI): The deepening the security cooperation and partnership between the US and India will be among many topics that will be discussed during the 2+2 ministerial dialogue between them in New Delhi on Friday, the State Department has said ahead of the crucial meeting of foreign and defence ministers from the two nations.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will host their American counterparts Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken on November 10.

"India is a country that we have a deep partnership (with). He (Blinken) will be going for the 2+2 security dialogue with Secretary of Defence Austin, so I expect, of course, that deepening the security cooperation and partnership will be one of the many topics that are discussed," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters at his daily news conference on Wednesday.

"It was something that was obviously raised during Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi's state visit earlier this year, and I know the Secretary looks forward to being there and engaging directly with his counterparts on this," Patel said in response to a question.

Earlier, a senior State Department official said India and the US share the goal of preventing the spread of the current conflict in the Middle East, underlining that this would be an important topic of discussion during the 2+2 ministerial meeting in New Delhi.

The two sides would also discuss the Indo-Pacific region, Russia and Ukraine along with the bilateral issues.

"They will be travelling to India for the annual 2+2 Dialogue, in which they have extended discussions with their ministerial counterparts. The 2+2 Dialogue was created in 2018," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu told reporters on November 1.

"(The 2+2 dialogue) allows our two countries to have high-level discussions about strategic and defence issues. In addition, the Secretary will hold meetings with External Affairs Minister Jaishankar and other senior Indian officials," Lu said.

Responding to a question, Lu acknowledged that China would be one of the topics of discussion.

"Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in terms of our efforts to support a free, open, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific is very much formally on the agenda. I think we will be interested to hear how India's discussions with China are going related to border issues, and I'm sure our Indian counterparts will be very interested to hear about Wang Yi's visit to the United States and the announced meeting between President (Joe) Biden and President Xi (Jinping) at the APEC Summit," he said.

Biden and Xi are expected to meet on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit to be held in San Francisco next week.


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