Written byGarima Bora ·
The US has said the upcoming "2+2 dialog" with India is an important opportunity to enhance engagement on a range of diplomatic issues and discuss how to operationalize India's status as a major defense partner.
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis will travel to New Delhi on September 6 for the 2+2 dialog.
Earlier, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman were to travel to Washington to take part in the meeting with their US counterparts in July.
But the US had postponed the dialogue citing "unavoidable reasons".
The format of the dialog was agreed upon between the two sides during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington in June 2017.
After June last year, the two countries have tried to schedule the dialog many times with several dates. Earlier this year also, the "2+2 dialogue" had been postponed due to uncertainty over the confirmation of Pompeo as President Donald Trump's new Secretary of State.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Alice Wells, addressing a public briefing yesterday, said, "India is enshrined in the President's national security strategy as well as the administration's South Asia and Indo-Pacific strategies."
India was designated a major defense partner by the US in 2016.
Defense cooperation between India and the US has grown from essentially zero in 2008 to $18 billion today.
On a question about trade relations with India, Wells said opening up trade with India is a key strategic objective for the Trump administration.
Bilateral trade currently stands at about $126 billion, an increase of more than $10 billion from last year and there have been critical purchases by Indian firms in the commercial aviation, energy as well as defense sectors.
Wells, however, said that impediments do remain between the two countries on trade.
"Tariff and non-tariff barriers have been a subject of longstanding concern and intellectual property rights as well. So we are continuing a very intensive dialogue with the Indian government on how do we address these irritants and unlock the trade that is of great interest to US firms," she said.
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