US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday in the national capital said that India and the US need to jointly confront China’s threats to security in the Indian subcontinent and the Indo-Pacific.
Speaking at the third India-US 2+2 ministerial dialogue in New Delhi, amidst the ongoing face-off between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, Pompeo discussed several issues from “cooperating on defeating the pandemic that originated in Wuhan, to confronting the Chinese Communist Party’s threats to security and freedom, to promoting peace and stability throughout the region”.
As per an official statement of the US government, Indian Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar at the meeting raised the issue of security threat India is facing from China. “In the area of defence we are challenged by reckless aggression on our northern borders,” he said at the bilateral dialogue.
The meeting assumes significance because the US secretaries of the Trump administration travelled to New Delhi amidst Coronavirus pandemic even as an intense ongoing campaigning for the Presidential elections due on November 3 was underway in the US.
“Our friendship and commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific was clearly, clearly highly on display when we were in Tokyo this past week and a half for the Quad meeting that Minister Jaishankar and I had with our Australian and Japanese friends earlier this month,” Pompeo told his counterpart.
The US secretary of state said, “Today is real opportunity for two great democracies like ours to grow closer, as I said on my trip to India last year when I called for a new age of ambition in our relationship. I think we’ve delivered on that over this past year. There is much more work to do for sure.” Together, India and the US are building a better future for “our people based on our shared set of values and our cultures, our defence ties, our scientific collaboration, and mutual prosperity. I thank you for your leadership to each of you to build what ought to be a defining partnership of democracies in the 21st century,” he added.
Jaishankar, at the 2+2 Dialogue said that as the global economy has taken a massive hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian government has to quickly make up for the losses as economic downturn will have both domestic and external consequences.
According to the US Department of State statement, Secretary of Defence Mark T. Esper, at the meeting with his counterpart Defence Minister Rajnath Singh pointed out that Tuesday marked the 15th anniversary of the first US-India Defence framework.
“We have strengthened our defence and security partnership considerably since then, especially over the past year, during which we advanced our regional security, military-to-military, and information-sharing cooperation. Our focus now must be on institutionalizing and regularizing our cooperation to meet the challenges of the day and uphold the principles of a free and open Indo-Pacific well into the future,” he said.
The two sides discussed key opportunities to expand their efforts on “regional security concerns” and to advance their “defence priorities”, to include increasing information sharing and mutual logistics operations between their militaries.
Jaishankar in his remarks said that at a time when it is particularly important to uphold a rules-based international order, the ability of India and the US to work closely in defence and foreign policy has a larger resonance. “Together we can make a real difference when it comes to regional and global challenges, whether it is in respecting territorial integrity, promoting maritime domain awareness, counterterrorism, or creating prosperity,” he added.
US Will Provide Any Support To India As ‘Deterrence’ Against China: Pompeo
In a provocative message to Beijing, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that Washington will provide any support to India as “deterrence” against China.
The statement came in his only television interview to Times Now after the 2+2 US-India Ministerial Dialogue held in New Delhi.
Pompeo’s statement is likely to ruffle the feathers in Beijing whose troops have been locked in a stand-off with the Indian Army along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh.
In response to a question whether the US has decided to offer India more than just diplomatic assistance in the event of a conflict with China or Pakistan, Pompeo said, “We did sign a series of important agreements but the agreements themselves were less important than the central understanding that came alongside them.
“What’s become very clear now is that there is a battle and the battle in the world is between freedom and authoritarianism, and India, like the Unites States, has chosen democracy and freedom and sovereignty and all the things that people of India care so deeply about. So when confronted by tyranny by the Chinese Communist Party, you can be sure that the US will stand by as partners. We will.”
“There are things that India can do that we can’t and there are things that we can’t achieve alone together. We can be force multipliers and deliver really good outcomes, not only for the people of India or the Indo-Pacific region, but for the entire world. So, as India has now confronted this challenge up in the north, the US is ready to do the things it can do to help deliver safety and security to the Indian people and I’m confident that India will do the same for us all around the world.”
When it comes to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), he said the entire world is the frontline.
“The ambition, national rejuvenation, and the goal of CCP general secretary Xi Jinping is not local, it is not regional, that desire is global. You see it in the Belt and Road initiative that extends throughout Africa and through the Middle East. This is a global challenge and the freedom loving world must take it on together,” he told the news channel.
The US, he said, understands the challenge.
“You can watch the things that we are doing. We’ve made it more difficult for China to invest in the US. We just want fair and reciprocal trading. We built up our military like at no time in history. Our diplomacy has shifted. We now understand the challenge that is presided by this seemingly great power and we stand ready to assist all freedom loving nations all across the world,” he said.
Pompeo said the US will provide any support to India to deliver the deterrence.
“In any way the US is capable of providing support…we are confident that together we can deliver the deterrence. Like this is the mission, that’s the reason we had meetings like we had today here. What we spoke about today was doing the things that can deter the Chinese Communist Party aggression, not only against India but I’ll leave here…”
“And I’ll go to Sri Lanka and Maldives and to Indonesia. There are places that have a common set of understanding of the challenge and I’m hopeful that these nations will unite to deter and prevent what precisely you are raising as a concern,” he said.
Pompeo added that India and China are locked in a bit of a standoff. “Many troops on both sides, too close and we attempt, we think the Indian Government hopes for there to be a disengagement,” he said.
In response to whether he thought there was a possibility of a de-escalation, Pompeo said, “I think anytime a nation shows weakness, you invite Chinese Communist Party’s aggression…We have encouraged the Chinese to de-escalate for sure. We think that’s in China’s best interest, we think it’s in India’s best interest and world’s best interest. That’s our mission. We don’t want a conflict there. We want peace everywhere.”
“We just signed this historic Abraham accord, you think it is disconnected from this region but it’s not. It is the same thing. It is a set of countries coming together under a shared of understandings and principles. It says, you know, hatred of another nation isn’t foreign policy… Build technological relationships, build economic relationships. Don’t hate, just build.
“If we do that, the US is confident that the world can be a more safe and secure place and it has worked so wonderful today, with my counterpart S Jaishankar, with Defence Minister (Rajnath) Singh. We talked about how we can, on behalf of our country, deliver those kinds of outcomes for each of our people,” Pompeo said.
One should never mistake working alongside another nation as giving up any sovereignty, Pompeo asserted.
“There is often this perceived notion, oh you are receding your sovereignty to another nation, but I actually think it is the opposite. I think that cumulative sovereignty of any nation is enhanced by having these partnerships, and countries that can work together. I think India has seen that and working alongside US, you know that they are more capable, more sovereign, and they can make better decisions for their people and the US can do the same for theirs,” he said.
Amid China stand-off along LAC, NSA Doval meets Pompeo in Delhi
Amid the ongoing stand-off with China along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Tuesday met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is in New Delhi for the third India-US 2+2 ministerial dialogue.
Pompeo landed in India on Monday along with his wife Susan, and US Secretary of Defence Mark T. Esper, even as the campaigning for the US presidential election reaches its final stage for the polls due on November 3.
Official sources said Doval had a very constructive meeting with Pompeo, as well as Esper, at the South Block.
They discussed a number of issues and challenges of strategic importance, the sources said, adding that both sides highlighted the need to take forward shared objectives and build capabilities across all domains so as to ensure a safe, stable and rule-based regional and global security environment.
India, US jointly challenge China on South China Sea
“The ministers reiterated their commitment to maintaining a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific built on a rules-based international order, underpinned by ASEAN centrality, rule of law, sustainable and transparent infrastructure investment, freedom of navigation and overflight, mutual respect for sovereignty, and peaceful resolution of disputes,” the joint statement said.
Highlighting the importance of securing the economic and security interests of all the stakeholders having a legitimate interest in the region, the two sides welcomed the growing understanding on the Indo-Pacific among the like-minded countries. They reaffirmed that closer India-US cooperation will support shared interests in promoting security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.
The two sides also said, “The code of conduct in the South China Sea should not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of any nation in accordance with international law.”
Building on a strong record of peacekeeping cooperation, the ministers decided to expand joint capacity building efforts with partner countries in the Indo-Pacific and to participate in multilateral peacekeeping training exercises. They expressed their support for sustainable, transparent, quality infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific region.
The two sides welcomed the inclusion of the Royal Australian Navy in the US-India-Japan Malabar Naval Exercise scheduled to be held in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea in November 2020.
The US welcomed India’s co-hosting of the Indo-Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference (IPACC), Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS) and Senior Enlisted Leader Forum (SELF) in 2023.
The ministers also announced that following the recent convening of the second Australia-India-Japan-US Quadrilateral Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo on October 6, 2020, the Quad consultations would now be held annually.
They expressed their support for further strengthening the Quad cooperation through expanded activities, including initiating a dialogue among the development organisations of partner countries.
The US will host the next 2+2 ministerial dialogue in 2021.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh calls on US defence firms to benefit from eased FDI rules, says “India challenged by China’s ‘reckless aggression’ on borders”
Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday called on American defence companies to take advantage of the easing of foreign direct investments rules in the sector.
After the 2+2 dialogue between India and the US, he said that military to military cooperation between both the countries is progressing very well.
“In the two days meeting, we also explored probable capacity building and other joint cooperation activities in third countries, including our neighbourhood and beyond,” he said.
Rajnath Singh also said that both India and the US shared an assessment of the security situation across the Indo-Pacific. “In that process, we reaffirmed our commitment to peace, stability and prosperity of all countries in this region,” he said.
About the security situation at Indo-Pacific region, US Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper said that India-US stand shoulder to shoulder for a free Indo-Pacific, particularly in view of China’s growing aggression. He also said that the India-US partnership is more important than ever in view of growing security challenges.
About forthcoming naval exercise, Rajnath Singh said that both the countries welcomed Australia joining the forthcoming Malabar Exercise. Esper too hailed Malabar Exercise involving the Quad countries and also inclusion of Australia.
Rajnath Singh also said that signing of Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) after signing of the LEMOA in 2016 and the COMCASA in 2018 is a significant achievement.
Both India and the US carried out follow up to some earlier discussions. These include positioning a United States Navy Liaison Officer at Information Fusion Centre (IFC) for the Indian Ocean Region and an Indian Liaison Officer at the United States Naval Forces Central Command, Bahrain; greater interaction and coordination with United States Central Command and United States Africa Command; setting up of the COMSEC account and increasing the scope and complexities of exercises.
“Now Liaison Officers at each other’s establishments could be leveraged to enhance our information sharing architecture. To sum it up, our military to military cooperation is progressing well,” the minister said.
In the defence industrial cooperation area, Rajnath Singh highlighted the capabilities of Indian defence industry and their usefulness in the supply chain of major US platforms and systems.
“We have identified priority Near-Term projects for joint development between respective agencies, which need to be fast tacked under the DTTI and resolved to work together in Defence R&D more efficiently,” he added.
India is challenged by China’s “reckless aggression” on its northern borders, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday at the India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue.
“Excellencies, in the area of defence, we are challenged by reckless aggression on our northern borders,” he said in his opening remarks, as per the US State Department read out of the opening statements of all the dignitaries of the dialogue.
Welcoming US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper, he thanked them for their “personal commitment to the India-US partnership”.
He thereafter talked about Covid-19 pandemic and how both the countries’ economies have suffered losses.
India and China are engaged in a six-month-long standoff at the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh. Both the countries had seven military commander-level meetings, but the border issue remains unresolved. The de-escalation of force at the LAC during winter is highly unlikely and both the countries face the huge challenge of logistics for their troops deployed in the area.
Temperatures at critical mountain peaks and passes along the disputed India-China border have dropped to minus 30 Degrees Celsius, throwing up a fresh challenge to the thousands of troops amassed by both sides.
On August 30, India had occupied critical mountain heights, like Rechin La, Rezang La, Mukpari, and Tabletop that were unmanned till now, on the southern bank of the Pangong Lake. It had also made some deployments near Blacktop also. The movement was carried out after the Chinese tried to make a provocative military move.
Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had carried out a barbaric attack at patrolling point 14 in Galwan Valley on June 15 in which 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers were killed.
It was the first casualties faced by the Indian Army in a clash with the PLA since 1975 when an Indian patrol was ambushed by Chinese troops in Arunachal Pradesh.
China, further, has issued a statement that they don’t recognize the newly-created Union Territory of Ladakh.