Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to meet US counterparts on July 6

Washington: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will hold talks with their American counterparts Mike Pompeo and James Mattis here next week which experts here hope will help change the current narrative surrounding the bilateral relationship amid economic and trade issues.

Mr Pompeo and Mr Mattis will host Ms Swaraj and Ms Sitharaman in Washington DC for the maiden India-US 2+2 Dialogue, the format of which was agreed between the two sides during the White House meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump in June last year.

The July 6 dialogue comes at a time of heightened trade tensions between the two countries.

Last week, India announced a plan to raise tariffs on 29 US imports in retaliation for the US' decision to include India in its list of countries covered by higher steel and aluminium duties.

During their engagement, the four Cabinet ministers are expected to spend time on discussing strategic issues in particular those related to defence, the Indo-Pacific region and the South Asia policy of the Trump administration, in which India has a key role to play, officials here said.

This is going to be the biggest engagement of the year between the two countries.

"It's an enormously positive signal that the 2+2 dialogue is continuing this year. It will provide a good opportunity to change the current narrative surrounding the bilateral relationship," Anish Goel, a senior fellow at New America and a former senior director at the White House's National Security Council told news agency PTI.

"The past few months, we have been stuck on sanctions, tariffs, and other economic and trade issues where the United States and India don't see eye-to-eye. This dialogue will allow them to focus on the strategic issues that are really the backbone of the partnership," Mr Goel said in response to a question.

Mr Goel expects that key issues such as counter-terrorism, cyber security, defence cooperation, and regional security will dominate the dialogue.