By Arul Louis
New York, Oct 21 (IANS) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said that the 2+2 ministerial meeting of the top foreign affairs and defence leaders of the India and the US in New Delhi next week will discuss the threats from China.
He told reporters that he was “sure” next Tuesday’s meeting will have a “discussion about how free nations can work together to thwart the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party”.
Pompep said he was especially looking forward to the meeting he and Defence Secretary Mike Esper will have with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh.
The 2+2 meeting that is held every year alternating between the capitals of the two countries has been delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic and Pompeo said: “I am glad that we’re going to execute that in person.”
This will be the third edition of the meeting that has raised the level of strategic cooperation between the two giant democracies, while cooperation in trade has stalled as the two countries have not been able to reach a trade agreement while President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” priority.
On the China front, Pompeo said that the “good news” was that the European Union was also taking up the issue and he and EU High Representative Joseph Borrell will launch the US-EU dialogue on China on Friday.
Pompeo said that during his trip he will also visit Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia.
“On every stop I will discuss a broad range of bilateral topics but also work to find out what each of those countries the best ways we can make sure that we cooperate to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he said.
The two South Asian nations that are strategically placed on the key international maritime route are under stress from loans that they have received from China and are now finding it difficult to service and in danger of China getting control of capturing control of key infrastructure.
Looking ahead to the 2+2 ministerial, Esper called New Delhi the most important partner for the US in the Indo-Pacific noting that India faces Chinese aggression every day.
He said at a meeting of the Atlantic Council on Tuesday in Washington, that “India will well be the most consequential partner for us, I think, in the Indo-Pacific for sure in the century”.
Indians “face-off every day, the Chinese aggression in the Himalayas, specifically along that line of actual control,” he said.
(Arul Louis can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)