The ‘two plus two’ dialogues as they are called are bilateral meetings between countries involving representatives of the defense/military affairs and the external affairs from either side. These are essentially aimed at increasing co-operation in matters relating to security.
The US, Japan and Australia are the only strategic partners with whom India has established a 2+2 foreign and defense dialogue mechanism. These countries together form the Quad or QSD which is an informal strategic forum and is understood as a security alliance against China. India’s meetings with Japan and the U.S are at the ministerial levels currently while that with Australia is at the secretarial level. These meetings along with formalizing key agreements have been crucial in projecting a powerful image of the Quad. The following paragraphs take a look at the progress of 2+2 talks from the Indian perspective with emphasis on the more fruitful talks with the US.
2+2 with Japan:
New Delhi – July 6, 2010 – Japan became the first country to have 2+2 consultations with India.
New Delhi – October 22, 2012 – The two sides briefed the other on their respective defense and security policies in the background of each country’s security environment and also exchanged views on maritime, cyber and outer space security.
New Delhi – June 19, 2018 – Both sides reviewed the entire gamut of India-Japan relations and discussed issues having overlapping foreign policy and security dimensions of India-Japan cooperation and consultations.
New Delhi – November 30, 2019 – first India-Japan 2+2 Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting. Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono visited the Indian Air Force base at Hindan .
Besides these meetings, India and Japan signed ACSA -Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement on September 9, 2020 to facilitate the smooth and prompt provision of supplies and services between the Self-Defense Forces of Japan and the Indian Armed Forces. The Agreement is also aimed at promoting closer cooperation between the Self-Defense Forces of Japan and the Indian Armed Forces, enabling them to actively contribute to international peace and security and share each other’s military logistics.
2+2 with Australia:
New Delhi – December 12, 2017 – both countries agreed that a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific is in the long-term interests of all countries in the region.
Canberra – October 10, 2018 – During the visit, the Indian delegation met Australia’s Director General of the Office of National Assessment and senior officials of Australia’s Department of Defense.
New Delhi – December 9, 2019 – The Australian delegation had a meeting with Shri Pankaj Saran, Dy. National Security Advisor and Smt. Vijay Thakur Singh, Secretary (East) to discuss bilateral issues.
The Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA) was signed on June 4, 2020 and will allow militaries of the two countries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies besides facilitating scaling up of overall defense cooperation.
2+2 with the U S:
New Delhi – September 6, 2018 – Inaugural India-US 2+2 and signing of Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA). It allows India to procure and transfer specialized equipment for encrypted communications for US origin military platforms like the C-17.
Washington DC- December 18, 2019 – India and the US conclude the Industrial Security Annex (ISA) agreement, to facilitate collaboration between defense industries by supporting the secure transfer of key information and technology. It opened up the defense sector to the private sector and was added to the existing GSOMIA.
New Delhi – October 27, 2020 – signing of BECA- Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement that allows India to use US geospatial intelligence and enhance accuracy of automated systems and weapons like missiles and armed drones. It gives access to topographical and aeronautical data and advanced products which will aid navigation and targeting and also facilitates sharing of high-end satellite images, telephone intercepts, and data exchange on Chinese troops and weapon deployments along the 3,488-km India-China LAC.
SOME KEY AGREEMENTS
GSOMIA – General Security of Military Information Agreement was signed in 2002. It allows the sharing of classified information from the U.S. government and American companies with the Government of India and Defense Public Sector Undertakings (DPSU).
LEMOA – Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement was signed in 2016. It allows both countries to use each other’s military bases for repairs and replenishments.
GSOMIA, LEMOA, COMCASA and BECA are the four key pacts that had been identified as significant to expand India – US strategic ties. The signing of these agreements is mandatory, under American law, for the US to enter military alliances related to the export of sensitive equipment.
The 2+2 talks along with such landmark agreements between India and the other Quad members have been crucial in the strengthening of the group. Australia which was initially reluctant is now on board realizing the need for enhanced cooperation. The talks, agreements and the Quad will hopefully put up a strong defense against the aggressive and oppressive rise of China and prevent the power balance from being tilted in favor of a regime that never plays by rules and has time and again dishonored all agreements and peaceful friendly gestures.