US secretary of state and defence secretary to visit India

US defence secretary and secretary of state are visiting for two plus two dialogue

shankar

Shankar Kumar | September 11, 2017 | New Delhi


#Narendra Modi   #Ajit Dova   #US defence secretary   #US secretary of state   #Shinzo Abe   #India   #US   #Japan  
US defence secretary Jim Mattis will arrive in India on September 25 (Photo: www.defense.gov)
US defence secretary Jim Mattis will arrive in India on September 25 (Photo: www.defense.gov)

Bilateral engagement between New Delhi and Tokyo would receive a fillip when Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe lands in India for a three-day visit from September 13. Although, he is coming here for an annual summit, he would lay the foundation stone for Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train, besides unveiling the proposed Asia-Africa growth corridor project. 

In between these two back to back events to be held in Ahmedabad, the two countries, as per sources, are also expected to sign a slew of agreements, including defence. 
 
Close on the heels of Abe’s visit, US defence secretary James Mattis is arriving in India on September 25. He will be followed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit. For the first time, high ranking officials of the Donald Trump administration are visiting India and they are coming here for the two plus two dialogue, a mechanism which is being used to give thrust to the two countries’ strategic interactions.
 
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and newly appointed defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman are likely to hold this dialogue with their US counterparts on September 26. 
 
According to former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal, the two plus two mechanism was in the works for quite some time between the two countries. “However, it was at foreign ministers and commerce ministers’ level,” Kanwal Sibal said, adding that “this  gave rise to a feeling that the two sides were paying too much attention to commerce side and that core thrust of strategic dialogue at critical level was missing”. 
 
When Trump became the US president, national security adviser Ajit Doval is believed to have first broached the idea of changing the format of the two plus two dialogue with his counterpart General HR McMaster during his visit to the US on March 25. It is believed that prime minister Narendra Modi also raised the issue with Trump in the course of his June 25-26 visit to the US.
 
The former foreign secretary’s opined that having closer interactions with the US and Japan fit into India’s scheme of things since relations with China has deteriorated fast. 
 
“Heat on Doklam may have cooled off for the time being. But this will not change the larger trend in the relationship (between Delhi and Beijing) because China’s ambitions are clearly known,” Kanwal Sibal said, maintaining that “China’s disengagement on Doklam was tactical in nature and it did so to have successful holding of the 9th BRICS summit.” 
 
He also termed putting Pakistan-based terrorist organisations like Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba in the BRICS’ joint declaration as a part of China’s tactical move to  mollify India for the time being  as “it is facing larger problem in the eastern sector as  North Korea has detonated Hydrogen bomb, triggering more tension in the region”.  
 
In the face of such developments, “it is logical to have closer ties with the US and Japan”, he said.
 

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