US Secretary of Defence, Mark Esper announced on Tuesday about the upcoming third 2+2 ministerial meeting between India and US, is scheduled to be held in New Delhi in the next week. His announcement hinted on the chances about both sides formalizing on the much anticipated maritime information revealing agreement.
Mark Esper, along with Secretary of state Mike Pompeo will be traveling to New Delhi for the meeting, unlike the virtual interactions, and will be having the meeting with Indian counterparts Rajnath Singh and Jaishankar Prasad on October 27.
Esper revealed about the meeting at Atlantic Council, “Secretary Pompeo and I will be there next week.. It’s our second two plus two with the Indians, the third ever for the United States and India and it’s very important.”
When asked about the maritime agreement, Mark responded, “We have a number of things we’ve been discussing with the Indians for, for some time we’ve made good progress on a number of them but we’ll release information on that when it’s appropriate.”
India and US may also formalize BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) which is about sharing of geospatial information, which will be the fourth and the final one of the foundational agreements.
Regarding the Indian ties, Esper stated India will be “the most consequential partner for us, I think, in the Indo-Pacific for sure, in the century.”
Mark further said, “As we expand our collaboration into new domains. Together, these efforts will strengthen what may become one of the most consequential partnerships of the 21st century.”
Based on the strong ties, 14 US Senators have urged for an invitation to Australia, in a jointly signed letter to Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Taranjit Singh Sandhu.
The letters by senators quoted, “We write in strong support of India’s decision to formally invite Australia to participate in the annual Exercise Malabar.. From an operational perspective, the addition of such a uniquely capable and stalwart partner, like Australia, to this naval exercise is invaluable, providing increased interoperability, strengthening threat assessment abilities and enhancing the maritime roles and missions of the four naval powers.”