External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday kick-started the much awaited '2+2' talks with United States Secretary of Defence James N. Mattis and the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
During the unprecedented '2+2' talks, both the world leaders agreed to work together towards entry of India in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Besides, India and United States also signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), which will open up the way for sales of more sensitive U.S. military equipment to India.
Addressing the '2+2' dialogues meet in Delhi Swaraj said, "I am confident that our discussions and decisions that we'll take today will help unleash the untapped potential of our relationship and further elevate the level of our partnership".
"We welcome the United States' recent designation of terrorists as a part of Lashkar-e-Taiba. These listing are based on terrorism that is flourishing in Pakistan, which has equally affected India, the US and the world," the External Affairs Minister asserted.
To hail the leadership qualities of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US president Donald Trump, Sitharaman said, "The commencement of first ever ministry of 2+2 between India and US is a concrete manifestation of the work vision of our leaders PM Modi and US President Donald Trump to take India-US relationship to even higher trajectory".
"This meeting is a reflection of tremendous focus that we've made in developing our ties over past few years. It's a strong recognition of the immense potential of our bilateral partnership for benefit of our people, region and beyond," the defence minister added.
Referring to the healthy relationship between India and US, Pompeo, on the other hand, said, "Our two nations are united by shared values of democracy, respect for individual rights and a shared commitment to freedom. Given those values, India and the United States have a natural starting point".
"We should continue to ensure freedom of the seas, skies, uphold the peaceful resolutions of the maritime disputes, promote market-based economics and good governance and prevent external economic coercion," the US Secretary said.
Sources said the focus of the two-plus-two talks was to deepen the global strategic partnership between the two countries and resolve differences over India's defence engagement with Russia and crude oil import from Iran.
Meanwhile, ahead of the inaugural '2+2' dialogue between India and US, Swaraj and Sitharaman also held bilateral talks with Pompeo and Mattis respectively. According to sources, several key bilateral issues were discussed during the meetings.
On Wednesday, both Pompeo and Mattis arrived in Delhi for the inaugural Indo-US '2+2' talks, which was finalised during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Washington in 2017.
In a special gesture, Swaraj on Wednesday received Secretary Pompeo at the airport, while Sitharaman welcomed Secretary Mattis, reflecting the importance India attaches to their visit to India.