The two top US officials will also call upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi and meet National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval in the national capital.

The holding of the third US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue demonstrates the high-level commitment the two countries provide to shared diplomatic and security objectives, the US State Department said on Sunday.

Mike Pompeo

The India-US 2+2 talks will focus on four themes -- regional security cooperation, defence information sharing, military-to-military interactions, and defence trade, according to the US State Department.

After landing in New Delhi, US Defence Secretary Esper was accorded Guard of Honour at South Block. He later held a meeting with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in the national capital. Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria and Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh were also present.

The dialogue is being held at a time when Indian and Chinese troops are locked in a prolonged standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. The two sides are most likely discuss the standoff during the dialogue on Tuesday.

Ahead of his visit, US Secretary of State Pompeo tweeted, "Wheels up for my trip to India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia. Grateful for the opportunity to connect with our partners to promote a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific composed of independent, strong, and prosperous nations."

What's in pipeline?

New Delhi and Washington are working to enhance military interaction and cooperation in defence and security — with an eye on increased Chinese belligerence in the region.

Two Indian officials will be designated for counter-terrorism cooperation with the US, Indian Express reported quoting sources, ahead of their visit.

Indian and the United States are working to conclude the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) during the visit, the report said. BECA will allow India to use US geospatial intelligence and enhance the accuracy of automated systems and weapons like missiles and armed drones.

What is 2+2 strategic dialogue?
The 2+2 dialogue is the institutional mechanism between India and the USA that brings together the perspectives of the two countries on foreign policy, defence and strategic issues. It is a format of dialogue where the defence and foreign ministers or secretaries meet with their counterparts from another country.

The first 2+2 ministerial dialogue was held in New Delhi in September 2018 and second in Washington DC in 2019.