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India-US 2+2 Ministerial Talks: Defence pact BECA signed!

By Priti Kumari

NEW DELHI: Amid the escalating tensions between the QUAD member countries and China, India and the US held their third 2+2 Ministerial dialogue between the External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar & Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo & Defence Secretary Mark T Esper. With an agenda of mushrooming regional security cooperation, defence information sharing, military-to-military interactions & defence trade, cited a US state official.

During this, India & the US has signed the much-negotiated (Basic Exchange & Cooperation Agreement) BECA, to strengthen defence implications. Strategists contemplate BECA as a milestone in India-US bilateral ties, after Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) & Communication Compatibility & Security Agreement (COMCASA). The BECA mainly concerns geospatial intelligence, & sharing information on maps & satellites for defence which will permit India to access the US's advanced geospatial intelligence.

Commenting on this, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stated, "We are happy that we have completed the BECA, which will open new avenues in the information sharing. We are eager to discuss further issues with the US". US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said,"We've strengthened our defence & security partnership especially over the past year during which we advanced our regional security and information sharing. Our cooperation meets the challenges of the day & principles of a free & open Indo-Pacific".

The diplomatic meeting also witnessed, signing of Maritime Information Sharing Technical Arrangement (MISTA) for building confidence in the maritime domain between the oldest democracy and the largest democracy. It is signed at the time when QUAD members are all set to engage in the Malabar naval exercise, marking their first military level engagement. Apart from this, they also discussed China's growing hegemony in the South Asian region.

Later on, the two US cabinet ministers are scheduled to visit Sri Lanka, Maldives & Indonesia, just a week before the US Presidential election.

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