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India, US plan new dialogue mechanism to boost India-Pacific security

16 August 2017

India and the United States have agreed to establish a new two-by-two ministerial dialogue mechanism to boost their strategic consultations and enhance security in the Indo-Pacific region, the White House said on Tuesday.

"The leaders resolved to enhance peace and stability across the Indo-Pacific region by establishing a new two-by-two ministerial dialogue that will elevate their strategic consultations," the White House said, without giving details of the mechanism.

What makes the new dialogue mechanism between two countries more important than ever is their shared view on maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, the White House said.

US President Donald Trump on Monday night also called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi to greet him and the Indian people on the eve of the country's Independence Day anniversary.

Trump, while extending his Independence Day greetings, also pledged that the US would continue to be a reliable and long-term supplier of energy to India, the White House said explaining the Trump-Modi conversation over the phone.

For India, the timing of the new initiative is important because of the prevailing hostile atmosphere in the continent and the benefits to its defence sector.

For the US, on the other hand, the looming threat of a trade war with China and the growing chasm with its NAFTA allies combine to force America look elsewhere to boost trade. ,

Both listed diplomatic and strategic interests as top priorities in their bilateral relationship.

The new changes mark a shift from the previous US administration's policies and will seek to improve upon the existing dialogue format between the commerce and foreign ministers of India and the United States, started by the Barack Obama administration.

The new dialogue format is likely to be on ''2 by 2'' format, involving both defence and foreign secretaries of the two countries, similar to the India-Japan 2+2 dialogue format.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and US secretary of state Rex Tillerson discussed the mechanism over the phone;

''The leaders resolved to enhance peace and stability across the Indo-Pacific region by establishing a new two-by-two ministerial dialogue that will elevate their strategic consultations.'' The White House, however, did not give any details of the mechanism.

Reports said the new initiative is in accordance with a preliminary conversation that took place during Modi's visit to Washington DC this June, and has been worked on in the last month and half.

The idea evolved during the conversation between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his American counterpart Gen (retd) H R McMaster in the early months of the new administration, given the convergence in views on security, defence, regional and global situation.

Both India and US felt that the present format of the strategic and commercial dialogue is not living up to its promise and potential.

Besides, security issues, the White House said Donald Trump was also very optimistic about the energy relations between the two countries as the first-ever shipment of American crude oil to India from Texas is scheduled to begin this month.

The White House also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked President Trump in the manner in which the latter was able to unite the world against North Korea, the country headed by Kim Jong-un which has threatened to attack the US with its nuclear missiles.

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