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Bliken, Austin to attend 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in New Delhi; will meet Jaishankar, Rajnath

Washington, DC [US]: In what will be a significant diplomatic engagement in New Delhi next week, a high-profile US delegation led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and also featuring Secretary of Defense Lloyd J Austin III, will arrive here for the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, the US State Department stated in an official statement.

The dialogue will provide a platform for top-level discussions between the US and India, addressing critical bilateral and global matters, with special emphasis on developments unfolding in the Indo-Pacific region.

US State Secretary Blinken and Defence Secretary Austin will meet with their Indian counterparts, Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar and Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh, as well as other senior officials.

The discussions are expected to encompass a wide spectrum of issues, including strengthening bilateral relations, addressing global concerns, and promoting cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

"The Secretary will then travel to New Delhi to participate in the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, joined by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III. The delegation will meet with Minister for External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh, and other senior Indian officials to discuss both bilateral and global concerns and developments in the Indo-Pacific," read an official statement by the US State Department.

The spokesperson for the US State Department, Matthew Miller said, "Secretary of State Antony J Blinken will travel to Tel Aviv, Israel; Amman, Jordan; Ankara, Turkiye; Tokyo, Japan; Seoul, the Republic of Korea (ROK); and New Delhi, India November 2-10, 2023."

Blinken, who landed in Israel on Friday, met with Arab officials, including several foreign ministers and Lebanon's caretaker prime minister, during a summit in Jordan's capital, Amman, on Saturday to discuss the conflict in Israel and Gaza.

Foreign ministers from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Qatar, as well as the Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, are set to meet with Blinken, according to a statement from Jordan's Foreign ministry.

On Saturday morning, Blinken met with Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati to discuss weeks-long tensions between Iran-backed Lebanese armed group Hezbollah and Israel on the Israeli-Lebanese border, according to Matthew Miller.

Secretary of Defence Austin will also join Blinken in India next week as part of his ninth official visit to the Indo-Pacific region, the US Department of Defence said.

Following his India visit, Austin would proceed to South Korea and Indonesia.

Following the ministerial, secretaries Blinken and Austin will call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"As part of his ninth official visit to the Indo-Pacific region, Secretary Austin will travel to India to meet with his counterpart, Minster of Defence Rajnath Singh, to discuss expanding defence industrial cooperation, enhancing interoperability, and advancing innovation through the India-US Defence Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X). The Secretary and Minister Singh will also participate in the fifth 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue alongside Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Minister of External Affairs Dr S. Jaishankar. Following the Ministerial, Secretaries Blinken and Austin will meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi," the US Defence Department release read.

Austin's fourth trip to the Indo-Pacific this year -- his ninth since becoming Secretary of Defence -- comes as the United States, together with its allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific, looks to keep the momentum towards a shared regional vision of peace, stability, and prosperity.

The 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue is a diplomatic summit held every year since 2018, with the Minister of External Affairs and the Defence Minister representing India and the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defence representing the United States.

The discussions centre on common issues of concern between the two countries.

India and the US have been holding these dialogues for further strengthening their strategic ties and this would be the fifth edition of these parleys, the government sources had earlier told ANI.

The US side is also expected to push for military hardware cooperation while India is likely to ask for the sharing of high-end technology for developing indigenous weapon systems during the ministerial, according to sources.
India and the US recently agreed to a USD 3 billion deal for supplying 31 MQ-9B Predator drones to Indian defence forces.

The US is also pushing for the sale of six additional P-8I surveillance planes to India. (ANI)

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