US-India 2+2 Dialogue and CAATSA Implications

This article explains the US-India 2+2 Dialogue in detail, the outcomes from the recent US-India 2+2 Dialogue summit held at New Delhi and implications of the US CAATSA on Indian engagements with Russia and Iran in light of this dialogue process.

Why is this Topic In Focus?

The Defence and External Affairs Ministers of India met the Defence Secretary and Secretary of State of US in New Delhi in September which has been dubbed as 2+2 dialogue between US and India. Earlier, the dialogue was first scheduled for April in 2018 and then rescheduled for July this year. But it was postponed both times at the request of US government owing to “unavoidable reasons”.  The stage for holding the 2+2 dialogue was set during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the US in June 2017.

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What is the India-US 2+2 Dialogue?

The US-India 2+2 Dialogue is based on the India-Japan 2+2 Dialogue mechanism where the Defence and External Affairs Ministers of India engage in talks with their US counterparts, the Defence Secretary and Secretary of State, over strategic, defence and policy issues in which both India and US have joint stakes.

The first India-US 2+2 Dialogue was held at New Delhi in September 2018.

What were the Outcomes of India-US 2+2 Dialogue?

The following were the key outcomes of the US-India 2+2 Dialogue.

  1. Signing of COMCASA

India and US signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) which will provide a legal framework for the transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India that would facilitate “interoperability” between their defence forces.

  1. India’s Entry to NSG

Both sides also discussed India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) at the 2+2 Dialogue which is facing opposition from China since India is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

  1. Discussion on H1B Visa Issue

India raised the H1B visa issue with the visiting US dignitaries since the cap on H1B visas was adversely affecting Indian IT professionals.

  1. Pakistan based Terrorism

India and US issued a joint statement asking Pakistan to curb the terrorism originating from its soil against other countries. India also appreciated the fact that US had designated three Pakistan based terrorists as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT).

  1. India-US Defence Ties

US has designated India as a Major Defence Partner (MDP) and has emerged as the second largest arms supplier of India after Russia. US reaffirmed the growing defence ties between the two countries and how this will have a beneficial impact in South Asia.

What is CAATSA?

The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), popularly known as the US sanctions law, aims at taking punitive measures against Russia, Iran, and North Korea. It seeks to punish Russia for its military intervention in Ukraine and its alleged meddling in the 2016 US Presidential elections.

It seeks to impose sanctions on persons (or countries) engaging in “significant transactions” with the Russian defence and intelligence sectors.

How is India Impacted by CAATSA?

India has signed a $5.4 billion defence deal with Russia to acquire 5 units of S-400 Triumf system. Almaz-Antey Air and Defence Corporation that manufactures the S-400 system is the list of 39 Russian entities that CAATSA seeks to prohibit third parties from engaging in business transactions.

It would also adversely impact proposed Indo-Russian defence deals apart from the purchase of spares, components, raw materials and other assistance since the bulk of India’s military equipment is of Russian origin.

Has US Provided Exemption to India from CAATSA?

India is seeking exemption from CAATSA on the ground that it is a Major Defence Partner (MDP) of the US and Indo-US defence deals have grown from zero to $15 billion in this decade. India has also not waited for the US to formally grant exemption from CAATSA and has gone ahead and signed the multi-billion dollar S-400 defence deal with Russia recently which indicates that India’s strategic interests cannot be dictated by a third party.

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