NewsMobile Explainer: 2+2 Dialogue Mechanism

India and US are all set to hold their talks under the second 2+2 dialogue on December 18th, 2019. The details for the same are being worked out by the officials from both the nations.

In this regard, it is important to understand the details of this mechanism called 2+2 and what exactly does this mean?

1. What exactly is this 2+2 dialogue mechanism about?

In foreign policy parlance, this refers to a dialogue mechanism between two nations, which provides them an opportunity to hold a high-level dialogue and sustain the relationship. Two Ministers of a nation meet their counterparts from other nations and hold a sustained dialogue. Hence, this mechanism is called the 2+2 dialogue mechanism.

Normally, in the case of India it is mechanism wherein the External Affairs Minister and the Defence Minister participate in a dialogue with their counterparts from other nation/nations.

2. Which other nation has this mechanism in place and with how many nations does India pursue this initiative?

Japan is considered to be the originator of this mechanism. At present they hold 2+2 dialogues with US, France, Russia, Australia and India.

India has this mechanism and has been holding this dialogue with Japan since 2010.

First Indo-US 2+2 dialogue in 2018 at New Delhi.

India-US 2+2 dialogue mechanism started in September 2018 and as mentioned before the second dialogue under this mechanism will be held in December 18th, 2019.

3. What are the advantages of this mechanism?

Bureaucratic inertia, irritants and differences of opinion are common factors to guard against in any relationship between nations. Depending on the seriousness of the situations, nations will have to hold a sustained dialogue at the high level to manage these threats in their relations and ensure that relations can be maintained in the very least or at the best taken forward to the next level.

Initiating the 2+2 dialogue mechanism between nations signifies that they attach the highest importance to that relationship.

This dialogue opportunity provides nations, an opportunity to iron out their differences, explore new areas of cooperation and resolve long standing issues of confrontation.

It also indicates areas of high focus in the relations that are being worked on. In the case of India, it is the External Affairs Minister and the Defence Minister who hold these dialogues.

4. What is the difference between Joint Commission meetings, subject specific joint commission mechanism dialogues and the 2+2 dialogue?

Normally Joint Commission meetings take stock of the entire gamut of relations between the two nations. It is not subject specific. For example, India has Joint Commission meetings with almost all nations with whom it has established diplomatic relations with. They meet normally every year depending on the status of the relationship. Normally these forums are chaired by the External Affairs/ Foreign Ministers of the two nations.

Subject specific joint dialogue mechanism also exists between two nations. The discussion/dialogue in these forums are restricted to that specific subject. For example: India and Russia have more 50 such dialogue mechanisms covering a wide variety of subjects such as Culture and Science and Technology, Business, Defence modernization, infrastructure development amongst others. In these forums, it is normally the senior officials or non- state actors such as business associations which participate.

2+2 dialogue mechanism is more specific and focused in its approach and Ministers meet their counterparts as mentioned before.

5. The Indo-US 2+2 Dialogue mechanism.

The first meeting was held in September 2018 and the two sides discussed a variety of subjects related to peace, terrorism, market-based economy, good governance, fundamental rights and liberty and action against economic coercion.

The Indian delegation was led by former External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the former Defence Minister and current Finance Minister Nirmala Seetharaman.

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