New Delhi: Ahead of the third India, US 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministers meet in New Delhi next week, the US state department has said that the situation at the Line of Actual Control with China will be discussed at the meet.

The US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and US Defence secretary Mark Esper will participate in the 2+2 meet which will take place on October 26 and 27. 

The Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Dean and  R. Thompson, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs speaking to reporters in Washington said, “Certainly, I think the situation on the Line of Actual Control will probably be discussed at some point, and we’re watching the situation closely. I think both sides have expressed a desire to de-escalate violence”.

The spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Anurag Srivastav on Thursday said, “The third India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue will entail a comprehensive discussion on cross cutting bilateral issues of mutual interest. In addition, both sides will also exchange views on salient regional and global issues.”

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India and China are engaged in a tensed standoff at LAC in eastern Ladakh, which started in the month of April. The situation got worse in June after 20 Indian soldiers died in Galwan valley due to Chinese aggressiveness, and even though Chinese too suffered casualties, they never came out with any number.

On Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) which is a military pact, Thompson said, “We’re in the process of finalizing a lot of the discussions right now, and so I know that BECA and other agreements are in the works.  I’m not going to, I think, commit to anything right this minute, but we do expect to have several items highlighted as we go through the trip.”

BECA will be the last of the 4 foundational military pacts that will be signed to increase interoperability and share information. India and US have already signed Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) in 2018, Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016, General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002.

On the 2+2 dialogue taking place just a week before the US Presidential elections, the state department official said, “The 2+2 which had previously been scheduled got delayed and this was an opportunity where schedules worked out together, so that’s really what’s driving the opportunity for this trip right now.”

“There’s a lot happening with India and with our other partners in the region, and so the fact that we could go now, that we could have this discussion, is driven by the situation in the region and what – where we’re headed,” he added.

The previous two dialogues were held in New Delhi in September 2018 and in Washington DC in December 2019. The US Secretary of State will be on a four-country tour next week, starting with India, followed by Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia.

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