New York: The diplomatic and defence leaders of India and the US have discussed expanding their cooperation into new defence areas like space and cyberspace to enable their militaries to jointly meet the challenges of this century, according to a readout of their 2+2 meeting that stressed “common strategic interests”.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin “committed to deepening cooperation in new defence domains, such as space and cyberspace, as the US and Indian militaries jointly meet the challenges of this century”, the readout issued by the Pentagon after Monday’s meeting said.
“They also agreed to launch an inaugural Defence Artificial Intelligence Dialogue, while expanding joint cyber training and exercises,” said the readout that was heavy on defence and strategic cooperation.
Extending multi-national cooperation beyond the Indo-Pacific to Europe was also on the table.
They “discussed ways to coordinate more closely with like-minded nations — including Australia, Japan, and European partners — to ensure that our shared principles of the rule of law, freedom of the seas, and respect for the territorial integrity of sovereign states prevail today and far into the future”, the readout said.
“Today’s 2+2 Ministerial reaffirmed that the United States and India will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, rooted in common democratic values, as two pillars of a free and open Indo-Pacific”, it added.
“In support of India’s leading role as a net security provider, the leaders discussed new opportunities to coordinate more closely together to ensure that the United States and India’s shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region continues to thrive,” the readout said.
“As the Indian military emerges as a more jointly integrated force, the 2+2 Ministerial advanced initiatives that will allow the US and Indian militaries to work more seamlessly together across all domains of potential conflict, from the seas to cyberspace,” the readout said.
“The United States and India finalised major bilateral initiatives on information-sharing, liaison exchanges, and joint service engagements to support high-end, combined operations”, it said.
Agreeing to “continue charting an ambitious course in the US-India partnership,” they “forged new and deeper cooperation across the breadth of the US-India partnership, including defence, science and technology, trade, climate, public health, and people-to-people ties,” the readout added.
On the contentious issue of Ukraine, where India and the US have diverged in some of their approaches, the leaders appeared to have found unanimity on humanitarian assistance and brutality in Bucha.
The readout said, “They agreed to maintain close consultations on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, including on humanitarian assistance efforts, and echoed support for an independent investigation into the brutal violence deployed against civilians in Bucha.”