James Mattis (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

The first 2+2 dialogue between India and the US has been described as “highly successful” and a “defining moment” that has helped to enhance the defence co-operation between the two countries, US defence secretary James Mattis said on Tuesday (11).

On 6 September, India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman held crucial talks with Mattis and US secretary of state Mike Pompeo in New Delhi.

“Last week I did go to India for what could only be considered highly successful consultations between the world’s two largest democracies. There were no difficulties that we uncovered there in moving forward on a number of pragmatic steps to draw ourselves closer together in terms of security,” Mattis told reporters, reported Press Trust of India (PTI).

“It was a very heartening trip, historic I’d even say, as you look at where we’ve been over so many years as we’ve grown closer and closer together,” Mattis said.

He pointed out that the communications compatibility and security agreement has opened a lot of doors in “terms of defense cooperation”.

“Probably we will look back on the 2+2, where Secretary Pompeo led the two of us in there as our senior diplomat. Probably a defining moment for the relationship between the US and India, and one that we think is absolutely on the right track in terms of defense cooperation,” Mattis said.

A state department spokesperson echoed similar sentiments, telling PTI that both the countries expressed an interest to grow their trade relationship in a fair and reciprocal manner.

“Both sides committed to further expanding and balancing the trade and economic partnership consistent with their leaders’ 2017 joint statement, including by facilitating trade, improving market access, and addressing issues of interest to both sides,” the spokesperson said.