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India-US share goal of preventing spread of conflict in Middle East: State Dept official

India-US share goal of preventing spread of conflict in Middle East: State Dept official

India and the US share the goal of preventing the spread of the current conflict in the Middle East, a senior State Department official said on Thursday, underlining that this would be an important topic of discussion during the 2+2 ministerial meeting in New Delhi next week. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken along with Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin would be in New Delhi on November 10 for the 2+2 dialogue with their Indian counterparts External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

The two sides would discuss the Indo-Pacific region, Russia and Ukraine along with the bilateral issues. “They will be travelling to India for the annual 2+2 Dialogue, in which they have extended discussions with their ministerial counterparts. The 2+2 Dialogue was created in 2018,” Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu told reporters hours before Blinken left for a five-nation Asia trip.

“(The 2+2 dialogue) allows our two countries to have high-level discussions about strategic and defence issues. In addition, the Secretary will hold meetings with External Affairs Minister Jaishankar and other senior Indian officials,” Lu said. Describing this as a key part of Blinken’s trip to Asia, Lu said one of the many discussion points will be the cooperation with India to keep the Indo-Pacific free, open, prosperous, and secure. The leaders will also discuss the conflict between Israel and Hamas and Russia’s war against Ukraine, he said. Blinken left for Israel on Thursday, following which he would travel to Jordan, S Korea and Japan before heading to India for the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue.

“On Israel-Hamas, the Indian Government was direct in its condemnation of the Hamas terrorist attack and has also joined a chorus of nations, including the United States, that have called for sustained humanitarian access to Gaza. With India, we share the goals of preventing this conflict from spreading, preserving stability in the Middle East, and advancing a two-state solution,” Lu said. “In recent years, a key part of the 2+2 Dialogue has also been defence co-production with India.

Our intention is to encourage more collaboration to produce world-class defence equipment to meet Indian defence needs and contribute to greater global security,” he said. “Finally, the four Cabinet officials, our two secretaries and their counterparts will also discuss our efforts to advance democracy and human rights, as well as our expanded cooperation in clean energy, counterterrorism, artificial intelligence, space, and semiconductor manufacture,” Lu said. Responding to a question, Lu acknowledged that China would be one of the topics of discussion. “Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in terms of our efforts to support a free, open, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific is very much formally on the agenda.

I think we will be interested to hear how India’s discussions with China are going related to border issues, and I’m sure our Indian counterparts will be very interested to hear about Wang Yi’s visit to the United States and the announced meeting between President (Joe) Biden and President Xi (Jinping) at the APEC Summit,” he said. On India Canada row, Lu said the US publicly and privately urged the Indian Government to cooperate with Canada on the investigation into the allegations made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “I know that we have been in constant contact with our Canadian partners, and we are hopeful that Canada’s investigation will proceed, and the perpetrators will be brought to justice,” he said.

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