In a serious setback to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign policy, the US on Wednesday announced that it was putting on hold the first India-US strategic 2+2 Dialogue involving External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and their US counterparts. These talks were scheduled to take place on 6 July in Washington.
India’s foreign ministry’s spokesperson Raveesh Kumar took to Twitter to make the shock announcement adding that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had spoken to Sushma Swaraj “to express his regret and deep disappointment at the US having to postpone the 2+2 Dialogue for unavoidable reasons.”
According to him, Pompeo sought Sushma Swaraj’s understanding “and they agreed to identify new mutually convenient dates to hold the Dialogue at the earliest, in India or the US”.
He wrote, “US @SecPompeo spoke to EAM @SushmaSwaraj a short while ago to express his regret and deep disappointment at the US having to postpone the 2+2 Dialogue for unavoidable reasons. US @SecPompeo sought EAM @SushmaSwaraj understanding, and they agreed to identify new mutually convenient dates to hold the Dialogue at the earliest, in India or the US.”
This new dialogue format was agreed to between the two sides during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington in June last year when he met US President Donald Trump for the first time.
Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh and US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan discussed the agenda for the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue on the sidelines of the G20 Ministerial Meeting in Buenos Aires last month.
During their meeting in the Argentine capital, Singh and Sullivan affirmed the strong US-India strategic partnership and India’s status as a Major Defence Partner of the US, said a report by IANS.
Taking a dig at Modi’s foreign policy, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Omar Abdullah, tweeted, “Other than Israel is there any country with whom PM Modi’s hugs have worked?”
Michael Kugelman, the deputy director of the American think-thank Asia Programme, too agreed with Abdullah. He tweeted, “Safe to say that US-#India relations have taken their biggest tumble in quite some time. In the Trump era, no US relationship is foolproof.”
The 2+2 Dialogue was to have been held in April, but was postponed because of changes in the leadership of the State Department after Rex Tillerson resigned and Pompeo was in the process of taking over.
Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump had accused New Delhi of charging as high as 100 per cent tariff on import of American products.