The inaugural India-UK ‘2+2’ foreign and defence dialogue, held on Monday, marked a significant milestone in the bilateral relations between India and the United Kingdom. The dialogue saw both sides focusing on ways to enhance cooperation in various critical areas such as trade and investment, defense, critical technologies, civil aviation, health, and energy.
A Platform for Holistic Engagement
The 2+2 dialogue at the senior official level is a mechanism aimed at fostering holistic engagement and cooperation between India and the UK. It serves as a forum to address a wide spectrum of issues, from political exchanges to defense matters, encompassing various facets of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
Co-Chaired by Distinguished Delegations
The Indian delegation was co-chaired by Shri Piyush Srivastava, Joint Secretary Europe West, Ministry of External Affairs, and Shri Vishwesh Negi, Joint Secretary, International Cooperation, Ministry of Defence. On the UK side, Mr. Ben Mellor, India Director, Indian Ocean Directorate, FCDO, and Lt. General Rob Magowan, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, Finance and Military Capability, Ministry of Defence, led the discussions.
Exploring New Horizons in Bilateral Relations
The dialogue unfolded against the backdrop of the India-UK relationship being elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during a virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his then-British counterpart Boris Johnson in May 2021. At this summit, both nations adopted a 10-year roadmap aimed at expanding ties in key areas such as trade and economy, defense and security, climate change, and people-to-people connections, among others.
Key Areas of Cooperation
During the ‘2+2’ dialogue, the two sides discussed possibilities for further collaboration in a wide array of sectors:
Trade and Investment: India and the UK explored opportunities to deepen their economic ties, with a focus on trade and investment.
Defense: Defense cooperation was a prominent feature of the dialogue, reflecting the strategic importance of this partnership.
Critical Technologies: The nations considered collaboration in critical and emerging technologies, recognizing the role of innovation in shaping the future.
Civil Aviation: Enhancing cooperation in civil aviation underscores the significance of connectivity in bolstering economic and cultural exchanges.
Health: Given the global health challenges, cooperation in the health sector is of paramount importance.
Energy: The dialogue included discussions on energy collaboration, emphasizing the need for sustainable and clean energy solutions.
Culture and People-to-People Connections: Cultural exchanges and people-to-people connections were highlighted as essential aspects of the partnership.
International Developments and Regional Focus
In addition to bilateral cooperation, the dialogue also delved into international developments, with particular attention to the Indo-Pacific region. Both countries share a vision for peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, emphasizing the importance of a free, open, and inclusive region. This regional focus aligns with the global strategic interests of India and the UK.
Enhancing Collaborative Efforts
Moreover, the dialogue explored the possibility of enhancing collaboration in areas such as counterterrorism, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), and maritime security. These discussions reflect the commitment of both nations to working together to address global challenges and ensure the safety and security of the region.
Positive Momentum in Bilateral Ties
In concluding the dialogue, both delegations expressed satisfaction with the regular high-level political exchanges and interactions that have provided guidance and momentum to India-UK multifaceted ties. This meeting further solidified the commitment of both nations to building a stronger partnership that spans across various sectors and contributes to regional and global stability.