After US President Joe Biden last month announced a new four-nation dialogue under the grouping ‘I2U2’, the US is prepared to host the first virtual summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Israeli PM Yair Lapid and UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan during his Israel visit on July 14. The US President will be on a West Asia tour from July 13 to 16.
What does ‘I2U2’ stand for?
The grouping is known as ‘I2U2’ as ‘I’ stands for India and Israel and ‘U’ for the US and the UAE. The first virtual ‘I2U2’ summit also known as the ‘West Asian Quad’ is expected to take place on Thursday, according to a PTI report.
The Biden administration has formed new multilateral initiatives or upgraded old ones since January 2021. These include the Quad (India, US, Japan and Australia), AUKUS (Australia, UK and US) and a Quadrilateral dialogue with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.
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How I2U2 Started
In October 2021, foreign ministers of the four countries met when External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was visiting Israel. It was then called the ‘International Forum for Economic Cooperation’. However, this time the interactions of the level of heads of government/state will be held with I2U2 upgrade, according to a report in The Indian Express.
The India-Israel-US-UAE grouping, which had met under a new framework in October 2021, dealt with issues concerning maritime security, infrastructure, digital infrastructure and transport.
What will it focus on?
“The visit will also focus on Israel’s expanding integration into the region, both through the Abraham Accords with UAE, Morocco and Bahrain; through deepening ties between Israel, Jordan and Egypt; besides an entirely new grouping of partners including Israel, India, UAE and the United States — what we call I2U2,” a US official was quoted saying in the Express report.
The leaders may deliberate on urgent regional and global issues, including the energy and food crisis in the backdrop of the Ukraine conflict, the PTI report said, cited its sources. In their deliberations, the leaders are also likely to discuss the broad contours of the new grouping and identify the key areas of cooperation. The talks are expected to largely focus on issues relating to trade and investment.
What’s the significance for India?
India’s bilateral strategic ties with each of the three countries has been on an upswing for the past few years. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the global energy and food security concerns last week on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Bali.
Jaishankar also held a separate meeting with his counterpart from the UAE, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.