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What is 2+2 dialogue?
A ‘two plus two dialogue’ is a term — adopted in foreign parleys — used for installation of a dialogue mechanism between two countries’ defense and external affairs ministries. To put it simply, ‘two plus two dialogue’ is an expression used to indicate that two appointed ministers from each country, the ministers of defense and external affairs in this case, will meet up to discuss the two countries’ strategic and security interests.
India - Japan and India - US... 2 + 2
India and Japan have practiced a ‘two plus two dialogue’ mechanism almost annually, held considerably before the meeting of the two prime ministers, since 2010.
India and the US conducted their inaugural ‘two plus two dialogue’ on September 6th, 2018. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis were in India for this dialogue. The two met Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman, “to discuss strengthening strategic, security and defense cooperation”, as stated in a joint report.
Outcome of 2 + 2 Dialogue between India and the US, September 2018:
Terming the 2+2 dialogue between India and the United States as a historic dialogue, External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, announced the signing of the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) between the two nations.
Both the countries also decided to work together towards India's entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
The Minister reaffirmed India's commitment to the Indo-Pacific as a free, open and inclusive concept and defined by a common rules-based order.
India and the US also called on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries, a joint statement on the dialogue said.
The two sides also expressed support for an ‘Afghan-led’ and ‘Afghan-owned’ peace process.
India and US also agreed to start exchanges between the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) and the Indian Navy as part of deepening maritime cooperation in the western Indian Ocean.
The meeting also witnessed the conclusion of a Memorandum of Intent between the US Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) and the Indian Defence Innovation Organization – Innovation for Defence Excellence (DIO-iDEX).
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also announced that India and US will be carrying out Tri-Services Joint exercise off the eastern coast of India in 2019.
What is COMCASA?
COMCASA, which stands for Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement, is one the four foundational agreements that the U.S. signs with allies and close partners to facilitate interoperability between militaries.
India has already signed two of the four agreements, the General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSIMOA) in 2002 and the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016.
The last one remaining is the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA).
COMCASA is an India specific version of the Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA).
COMCASA allows India to procure encrypted communication systems from the U.S. for military platforms like the C-17, C-130 and P-8Is. Due to non-signing of COMCASA, these platforms were using commercially available communication systems.
Signing COMCASA allows India to acquire Sea Guardian drones, which can detect and target enemy warships.
India's decision to sign COMCASA comes at a time when the United States has voiced its opposition to India's acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile shield since it violates the US Countering America's Adversaries through Sanctions Act.