The United States postponed the ‘2+2 dialogue’ with India as Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo has to travel to North Korea to discuss the country’s denuclearisation plan, official sources said on Wednesday.
The reason for postponing the dialogue, scheduled for July 6 in Washington, was conveyed to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj by Pompeo during a telephonic conversation between them on June 27, the sources said.
The North Korean issue is number one priority for the US now. Both India and the US are now working on next set of dates for the ‘2+2’ dialogue.
Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman were to travel to the US to take part in the meeting with Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis.
Sources said the dialogue is likely to take place in the next couple of months.
They said defence and trade relations between the US and India were on track, rejecting speculation that postponement of the dialogue was reflective of a slide in bilateral ties.
Last week, the US had said that the postponement of the dialogue with India was prompted by reasons “entirely unrelated” to the bilateral relationship.
Earlier this year as well, the ‘2+2 dialogue’ was postponed due to uncertainty over the confirmation of Pompeo as US President Donald Trump’s new Secretary of State.
Secretary Pompeo is scheduled to leave for North Korea on Thursday on a three-day visit to discuss that country’s denuclearisation plan.
On June 12, US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had held a historic summit in Singapore in which they had discussed denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
Meanwhile, the sources said Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra held talks with their counterparts in Japan last week to prepare for the annual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.