India and the US during their first 2+2 Dialogue in New Delhi have discussed the role of China in the Indo-Pacific region and how to work with other regional players in securing the seas and the skies, a senior Trump administration official said Monday.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held the crucial talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis on September 6.
"The discussion on China comes up most in the context of the vision the two nations have for the Indo Pacific region, which excludes no nation," Alice Well, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, told reporters during a conference call Monday.
"We discussed the Indo-Pacific as an opportunity for the US and India to be able to offer countries alternatives for development, alternatives for how they're going to pursue significant infrastructure projects and how they're going to work to be able to create a free and open trading system that has advanced all the countries of the world since post World War – II," Wells said in response to a question.
Observing this is not a zero sum kind of discussion, Wells said the US and India welcome contributions by China to regional development, so long as they adhere to high standards where there's transparency, rule of law and sustainable financing.
"But instead what we see is an opportunity to use private sectors to contribute meaningfully to development of the region," she said.
The US has about USD 1.4 billion in trade with the Indo-Pacific, over USD 850 billion in foreign direct investment.
"So the conversations between the two countries during the 2+2 Dialogue were how they can bilaterally, tri-laterally with Japan and quadrilaterally with Australia and with the ASEAN can we work to promote economic security and good governance and security of the seas and the skies," Wells said.