Department of State
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
September 6, 2018
SECRETARY POMPEO: Good afternoon. On behalf of the United States, I would like to thank Minister of External Affairs Swaraj and Minister of Defense Sitharaman for hosting Secretary Mattis and me for this first-ever U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. It is truly historic and important. Thank you.
This is my first trip to India as Secretary of State, and it is an honor to travel here for such an important and successful event. Later today, Secretary Mattis and I will meet with Prime Minister Modi. We look forward to discussing how best to advance the U.S.-India relationship, one that is in a new era of growth under his leadership and that of President Trump.
Today’s 2+2 meeting is symbolic of our increasingly close partnership. We had many productive and forward-thinking conversations on our bilateral relationship, our shared future, and how we can cooperate in promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific.
As the two largest democracies in the world, the United States and India are deeply bound by our shared values. We have a responsibility to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific that reflects those values: the rule of law; national sovereignty; good governance; the protection of fundamental freedoms, rights, and liberties; free, fair, and reciprocal trade relationships; and peaceful resolutions of territorial and maritime disputes.
We know our peoples’ ability to exercise their economic and personal freedoms depends on a strong and stable security environment. To that end, today our two countries enter into an ambitious plan to elevate our security cooperation across a number of areas. The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement is a major step forward in our defense collaboration and coordination. It will allow us to better protect the freedom and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific.
We also agreed on the scope and scale of military cooperation with India as our major defense partner – a unique status that the United States has granted to India. I’ll let Secretary Mattis speak on this in more detail.
Today we also discussed a number of pressing regional and global issues, including Afghanistan and North Korea, and how our two countries can work together more closely to address each of those. We also committed to deepen our already strong counterterrorism cooperation.
On economic matters, President Trump recognizes the long-term strategic importance of India’s economy playing a productive role in the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing region. He is intent on ensuring the United States, India, and all countries can responsibly reap the benefits of an Indo-Pacific that is open, free with fair trade and investment.
As just one example of President Trump’s commitment, Secretary of Commerce recently announced Strategic Trade Authorization Tier-1 status for India just a few weeks ago. This will further facilitate high-technology exports from the United States to India. The United States will continue to practice partnership economics with India and all the other countries in the region. We seek to unlock the unparalleled potential of our private sectors to meet the region’s developmental, energy and infrastructure needs, and to create an environment in which businesses and countries can thrive when they play by the rules.
Today also marks another milestone for our relationship. Thanks to intense advocacy from the United States, 10 years ago today the Nuclear Suppliers Group voted to allow India to engage in trades of civilian nuclear materials and technologies. That vote and the subsequent Section 123 civil nuclear agreement opened a path for our strategic relationship to grow, bolster defense and commercial cooperation and expanded our people-to-people ties. We now look forward to what we can achieve over the next 10 years. In particular, we look forward to finalizing the Westinghouse civil nuclear project that will provide clean and reliable power to millions of Indians.
I want to close by again thanking our Indian hosts for your generosity that you have shown to me and my colleagues. The United States will continue to work with India to foster greater security and prosperity for our nations, the Indo-Pacific region and indeed the world.
And with that, I invite the Minister of Defense to make remarks.
SECRETARY MATTIS: Well, good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, and Minister Swaraj and Minister Sitharaman, just thank you for the warm hospitality and the professional discussions that we have had here today. It’s a pleasure to be back in New Delhi among friends and representing the United States alongside Secretary of State Pompeo. And Minister Sitharaman, I would just say that I wholeheartedly concur with how you characterized the defense relationship in your statement just now. Today’s fruitful discussion illustrated the value of continued collaboration between these two coequal democracies. It’s a strong relationship between the world’s two largest democracies and it did not begin with those of us sitting here before you. We inherited it, and now we ensure it is even stronger when we pass it to our successors on a higher trajectory than we received it.
Since India gained its independence in 1947, our nations have shared a fundamental respect and love of freedom. Just three years after India’s independence, Prime Minister Nehru visited the United States – in his words, and I quote – “On a voyage of discovery of the mind and heart of America.” Today, Secretary Pompeo and I bring the same spirit that Prime Minister Nehru carried to Washington almost 70 years ago, promoting the cooperation which both our countries earnestly desire. Today’s successful and highly productive meeting, the first ever 2+2 between our nations at the ministerial level, has further bolstered our strong defense relationship, as you just heard. We reiterated our highest respect for each other’s sovereignty and committed to work together for a safe, secure, prosperous and free Indo-Pacific, one that is underpinned by the rule of law.
We appreciate India’s role as a stabilizing force on the region’s geographic front lines. Your nation understands better than many peace and prosperity are only attainable when all respect the principles of territorial integrity, freedom of navigation, freedom from coercion. All of these are fundamental to the rules-based order. Only then, to borrow Prime Minister Modi’s words, can nations small and large prosper free and fearless in their choices. We will continue working together to enhance and expand India’s role as a primary major defense partner, to elevate our relationship to a level commensurate with our closest allies and partners. Today we took, as you know, a significant step towards that goal by signing the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement. The landmark agreement deepens our military-to-military cooperation and our ability to share the most advanced defense technology, making us both stronger.
In addition, we agreed to increase and expand our engagement in the maritime domain with a new tri-service exercise. And Secretary Pompeo and I also gained insights on a range of issues from the DPRK sanction enforcement to counterterrorism cooperation, recognizing that both our nations have endured the effects of senseless terrorist attacks like those 10 years ago in Mumbai, which killed innocents from more than a dozen nations. We remember those lives lost as we approach the 10th anniversary of attacks this November. Today, the steps we took will pave the way ahead for an even closer military relationship. Our meeting signified the bright future ahead for our two nations, indicating the growing trust we share as strategic partners. We look forward to meeting with Prime Minister Modi this afternoon, and welcome the opportunity to thank him for his strong leadership and to discuss the way ahead, and thank you very much.