India and the United States will hold their third edition of 2+2 ministerial dialogue here on October 27 during which the sides are expected to explore ways to further strengthen defence, security and global strategic ties including in the Indo-Pacific region.
Announcing the date for the talks, the ministry of external affairs said US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper will visit India on October 26 and 27.
The Indian side at the talks will be represented by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
"India will be hosting the third India-US 2+2 ministerial dialogue on October 27 in New Delhi. US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark T Esper will be visiting India on October 26-27 to participate in the dialogue," the MEA said.
The high-level talks are taking place in the midst of India's festering border row with China in eastern Ladakh as well as renewed global focus on growing Chinese military assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region. Both the issues are expected to figure in the talks.
The US has been severely critical of Chinese behaviour in eastern Ladakh.
People familiar with the upcoming talks said the overall focus of the deliberations is likely to be on further ramping up of defence and security cooperation including expansion of intelligence sharing as well as military-to-military ties.
It is expected that the two sides may finalise the long-pending BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) agreement to further boost bilateral defence ties. The BECA will provide for sharing of high-end military technology, logistics and geospatial maps between the two countries.
In Washington, Pompeo said:"Looking forward to my upcoming trip to India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia, for productive conversations with our friends and partners, and the US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue."
The Indo-US defence ties have been on an upswing in the last few years.
In June 2016, the US had designated India a "Major Defence Partner" intending to elevate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.
The two countries inked the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that allows their militaries use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies as well as provides for deeper cooperation.
The two countries signed another pact called COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 that provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for sale of high end technology from the US to India.
The first edition of the two-plus-two dialogue was held in Delhi in September 2018 after the mechanism was approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump.
The second edition of the dialogue took place in Washington in December last year.
The framework of the 2+2 ministerial dialogue was initiated in order to provide a forward-looking vision for the strategic partnership between the two countries.