NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Joseph Francis Dunford arrived in New Delhi for the 2+2 Dialogue after a brief halt in Pakistan on Wednesday evening, and was received by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the airport.
US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis arrived separately and was received at the airport by his counterpart, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and other senior officials.
Pompeo and Mattis will meet with Swaraj and Sitharaman on Thursday for the first-ever 2+2 Dialogue between the strategic partners.
In Islamabad, Pompeo and Dunford met Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan as well as Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The visit came days after the US announced cutting $300 million military aid to Pakistan.
In a statement earlier, Pompeo had acknowledged that bilateral ties had soured during the earlier government in Pakistan, and that he hoped that they could now “turn the page and begin to make progress”. However, he noted that “there are real expectations. We need Pakistan to seriously engage to help us get to the reconciliation we need in Afghanistan”.
Pompeo also clarified that in India, while issues like the effect of US sanctions on India’s purchase of the S400 Triumpf air missile defence system from Russia and oil from Iran might be discussed, they would not be stumbling blocks in the talks.
“They are (missile system purchase from Russia and oil from Iran) part of the conversation. They are part of the relationship. They will certainly come up, but I don’t think they will be the primary focus of what it is we are trying to accomplish here,” he said.
“There are half-a-dozen things on the agenda that we are really intent on making progress on. Those decisions are important, they are important to the relationship for sure, but I don’t see us resolving those or have intention to resolve those during this set of meetings of the strategic dialogue,” he said.
“They are really about things that are big and strategic and will go on for 20, 40, 50 years. Those are the kinds of topics that secretary Mattis and I are hoping to address — not that those are not important, but they are not part of the structural relationship between the two countries.”
Seperately, Dunford said, “India is one of our premier security partners and an important and influential global leader. Our nations are united by shared values and a commitment to freedom. The 2+2 presents an historic opportunity to develop our growing partnership and to explore ways of enhancing our security cooperation.”