New Delhi: The United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken today said “It’s very important that India work with Canada on its investigation, and that they find a way to resolve this difference in a cooperative way”. However, he was quick to add, ” But that really does go with Canada moving its investigation forward and India working with Canada on it”.
Blinken said he took up the matter again with Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar during their meeting here today on the sidelines of the Fifth Annual India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. He was responding to a question about the crisis in India-Canada relations following the latter’s allegations of India’s hands in the killing of pro-Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June 2023 in Canada. This subsequently resulted in a diplomatic row between the two countries. Blinken was also asked about what progress he made in convincing India to restore diplomatic immunity to Canadian diplomats.
Describing both India and Canada as “two of our closest friends and partners”, Blinken said, “of course, we want to see them resolving any differences or disputes that they have as a friend of both”.
Blinken along with the US Secretary of Defence, Lloyd Austin, also met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and reaffirmed the USA’s and India’s shared vision for close partnership in the Indo-Pacific and on issues of global importance. They emphasized working together to address ongoing crises such as Russia’s war against Ukraine and the conflict in the Middle East. Prime Minister Modi expressed satisfaction at the deepening cooperation in all areas and noted that the Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership between India and the U.S. is anchored in democracy, pluralism, and respect for the rule of law.
The two Secretaries briefed the Indian Prime Minister on their discussions with the Defence Minister of India, Rajnath Singh, and External Affairs Minister, Dr. S. Jaishankar, in the “2+2” format.
Blinken told journalists that the 2+2 session was “very productive”. He added: “This builds on the important visit that Prime Minister Modi made to the United States followed by President Biden’s visit here for the G20. And we continue – India and the United States – to deepen our partnership, to deepen our collaboration on everything from emerging technologies to defence to people-to-people ties, as well as our shared diplomacy to try to advance an Indo-Pacific region that’s free, that’s open, that’s prosperous, that’s resilient.”
India and the US issued a joint statement after the 2+2 dialogue between Dr Jaishankar, Singh, Blinken and Austin, reaffirming the importance of the India-U.S. Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership in ensuring international peace and security. The Ministers also underlined their strong commitment to safeguarding a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific through mechanisms like the Quad.
Both India and the US reaffirmed their commitment to further deepen the multifaceted defence partnership through wide-ranging dialogues and military exercises of increasing complexity and sophistication, accelerated joint projects initiated under the June 2023 Roadmap for India-U.S. Defence Industrial Cooperation and expanded collaboration in emerging domains, such as space and artificial intelligence. They expressed satisfaction with the pace of cooperation in Maritime Domain Awareness and looked forward to identifying pathways to promote stronger service-to-service ties and share technologies to address an array of maritime challenges, including in the undersea domain.
The Ministers reaffirmed the Roadmap for Defence Industrial Cooperation as a catalyst for strengthening India’s capabilities, enhancing its indigenous defence production, facilitating technology-sharing, and promoting supply chain resilience. The Ministers accordingly appreciated the commencement of negotiations for a commercial agreement between General Electric (GE) Aerospace and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to manufacture GE F-414 jet engines in India. Such partnerships exemplify the type of defence-industrial cooperation that the two countries look forward to pursuing as an enduring pillar of the defence partnership. Looking ahead, the Ministers welcomed the progress achieved towards the co-production and co-development of defence systems, noting their mutual interest to co-develop and co-produce ground mobility systems, as they bring the two countries’ respective defence sectors closer together while enhancing Indian capabilities. They look forward to additional proposals from Indian and U.S. companies to develop and produce systems in the priority areas established in the Roadmap.
Both sides recommitted to spurring investment in India’s growing maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) sector, which encompasses aircraft maintenance and mid-voyage repair of U.S. naval vessels. They welcomed commitments from the U.S. industry to further increase India’s MRO capabilities, including for the repair of aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles.
The Ministers also pledged to implement commitments by Prime Minister Modi and President Biden to undertake regular efforts to address export control issues while expanding defence-industrial cooperation and supporting India’s goals of emerging as a global defence hub. Both sides look forward to further discussions about export control and technology transfers in the Strategic Trade Dialogue and its affiliated working groups.
Looking forward to the finalisation of a Security of Supply Arrangement (SOSA), the joint statement said it is a key priority in the Roadmap, which will further integrate the defence industrial ecosystems of both countries while strengthening supply chain resilience. It commended the breadth of partnerships under the India-US Defence Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X) since the initiative was launched in June 2023.
Both sides specifically welcomed the Investors Strategy Session convened in New Delhi on November 8, 2023. The event provided an opportunity for private investors to mobilize capital for funding innovation in cutting-edge technology to address critical security needs. The Ministers also welcomed the launch of the INDUS-X Gurukul Education series to enable startups to leverage opportunities in the defence ecosystems of India and the United States. They also took note of the recent launch of the INDUS-X joint challenges initiative, which will unleash the talent and innovative drive of commercial sectors in both countries to strengthen the respective defence industry ecosystems.
The Ministers lauded continuing advances in interoperability, noting that India and the United States are setting up new liaison positions to facilitate seamless communication and cooperation between their armed forces. The two sides welcomed India’s full membership of the multinational Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), headquartered in Bahrain.
They also welcomed further discussions to maximize the shared benefits of the Logistics and Exchange Memorandum Agreement (LEMOA) and identify reciprocal steps both countries can take to enhance the reach of their respective militaries.
While “unequivocally” condemning terrorism and violent extremism, and the use of terrorist proxies and logistical, financial or military support to terrorist organizations, both countries, the joint statement also called for concerted action against all terrorists, including Al-Qa’ida, ISIS/Daesh, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, and Jaish-e-Mohammed.
The Ministers also took stock of other joint initiatives including the progress made under the India-US Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) to build science and technology and critical technology value chain collaborations in both the commercial and defence sectors. They also applauded the recent developments in further strengthening space collaborations by establishing a fifth sub-working group, under the India-US Civil Space Joint Working Group, to focus on ‘Space Commerce’. They welcomed adding ‘Planetary Defence’ as a topic under the India-U.S. Civil Space Joint Working Group led by NASA and ISRO, and India joining the multilateral Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG) and International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) by the end of the year.
– global bihari bureau