New Delhi [India], October 27 (ANI): India and the United States on Tuesday applauded the "exemplary cooperation" between the two countries in confronting challenges emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic and reiterated their commitment to further strengthening partnership between the two nations, anchored in mutual trust and friendship, shared commitment to democracy, converging strategic interests, and robust engagement of their citizens.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held talks with US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Defense, Mark T Esper, here during the third annual India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue.
During the dialogue, India and US signed five agreements including the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement or BECA which allow India real-time access to precision data and topographical images from the United States military satellites, MoU for technical cooperation on earth sciences and Agreement on cooperation in Ayurveda and Cancer research.
The two countries also signed an arrangement extending the duration of the Memorandum of Understanding concerning cooperation with the Global Center for Nuclear Energy Partnership and Memorandum of Understanding for Technical Cooperation in Earth Observations and Earth Sciences and Agreement for the Electronic Exchange of Customs Data between the Postal Operators.
In a joint statement, the ministers welcomed the elevation of the India-US relationship to a Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership during the visit of President Donald J. Trump to India in February 2020.
"The Ministers welcomed the elevation of the India-US relationship to a Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership during the visit of President Donald J. Trump to India in February 2020. They reiterated their commitment to further strengthening the India-US partnership, anchored in mutual trust and friendship, shared commitment to democracy, converging strategic interests, and robust engagement of their citizens," the statement read.
They reiterated their resolve to strengthen cooperation in the development of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, ventilators and other essential medical equipment. Recognizing that bilateral engagement in research and development and mass production of vaccines and therapeutics plays to our respective strengths they sought to jointly promote access to high quality, safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines and treatments on a global scale, according to the statement.
India expressed appreciation for the 200 ventilators provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to the Indian Red Cross Society, while the US expressed appreciation for India's export of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), essential medicines, and therapeutics to the United States during these challenging times.
The ministers welcomed efforts to rejuvenate and expand bilateral India-US trade in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, they noted ongoing discussions by the United States Trade Representative and India's Ministry of Commerce and Industry to reach an understanding on improving market access, removing barriers to trade, and improving the business environment.
The ministers said they look forward to the conclusion of an overarching MoU between India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including their component agencies and departments, to enhance health cooperation, including on health emergencies and pandemics, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of communicable and non-communicable diseases, and biomedical research and innovation.
The Ministers reaffirmed efforts to enhance supply chain resilience and to seek alternatives to the current paradigm, which had come under severe strain during the pandemic and exposed critical vulnerabilities. The Ministers sought to support the global economic recovery, including in India and the United States, to emerge from the pandemic more resilient than ever.
On terrorism, the ministers denounced the use of terrorist proxies and strongly condemned cross border terrorism in all its forms. They emphasised the need for concerted action against all terrorist networks, including al-Qaeda, ISIS/Daesh, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen.
The ministers called on Pakistan to take an immediate, sustained and irreversible action to ensure that no territory under its control is used for terrorist attacks, and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators and planners of all such attacks, including 26/11 Mumbai, Uri, and Pathankot.
The ministers reiterated their commitment to maintaining a free, open, inclusive, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific built on a rules-based international order, underpinned by ASEAN centrality, rule of law, sustainable and transparent infrastructure investment, freedom of navigation and overflight, mutual respect for sovereignty, and peaceful resolution of disputes.
Highlighting the importance of securing the economic and security interests of all stakeholders having a legitimate interest in the region, they welcomed the growing understanding on the Indo-Pacific among like-minded countries.
The United States congratulated India for its non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the term 2021-2022.
The Ministers reiterated their commitment to work together in close coordination at the UNSC and in International Organizations.
The US also reaffirmed its continued strong support for India's permanent membership in a reformed UNSC as well as for India's early entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), according to the statement.
Noting the 15th anniversary of the inaugural US-India Defense Framework Agreement, the Ministers commended what has become a comprehensive, resilient, and multi-faceted Major Defense Partnership (MDP) between India and the United States.
They applauded the significant step of the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA). They also welcomed enhanced maritime information sharing and maritime domain awareness between their Navies and affirmed their commitment to build upon existing defence information-sharing at the joint-service and service-to-service levels and explore potential new areas of mutually beneficial cooperation.
"The Ministers welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Technical Cooperation in Earth Observation and Earth Sciences between the Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for developing a better understanding of the regional and global weather origins in the Indian Ocean and advancing common research goals in meteorology, oceanography, and management of living marine resources," the statement read.
Underscoring the importance of ties between our respective legislatures, the Ministers welcomed the launch of an India-U.S. Parliamentary Exchange.
The Ministers welcomed the increasing number of Indian students in the United States and acknowledged the role of expanding educational ties and fostering entrepreneurship and scientific innovation.
In this context, the ministers welcomed India's National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 which would pave the way for enhanced collaboration between academic institutions of both countries. The Ministers looked forward to discussions to further advance India-U.S. educational partnerships.
They also welcomed the commencement of issuance of 12-month reciprocal temporary duty visas to officials from both Governments as a step to facilitate the growing partnership.
The United States looks forward to hosting the next 2+2 Ministerial in 2021. (ANI)