India, US Sign ‘BECA’ During 2+2 Meet
Defence and Foreign Ministers of India and Secretary of State and Defence Secretary of the US took part in the Dialogue which also discussed Defence Industrial Cooperation, Defence Innovation and the situation in Indo-Pacific, among a host of other issues of mutual interest.
India and the United States were recently engaged in the ‘2+2 Ministerial Dialogue’ in New Delhi. While Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar led the talks from the Indian side, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper represented the US. Following the meeting, Rajnath Singh thanked the US Secretaries, their delegations and members of the US media for having travelled to India amidst the threat of COVID-19 pandemic. “I deeply appreciate your commitment to our bilateral relations,” he said.
According to Rajnath Singh, comprehensive discussions on key aspects of bilateral and multilateral cooperation were held. “We considered the major challenges we face. The need for quick economic recovery and growth, prevention of the pandemic, rebuilding the global supply chains and related issues received obvious priority in our discussions,” he elaborated. The Defence Minister said that signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) during the latest 2+2 meeting was a significant achievement. During the earlier editions of the dialogue, LEMOA was signed in 2016 and COMCASA in 2018.
He also highlighted some of the other noteworthy steps taken by India and the US. “These include positioning a USN LO at IFC-IOR and Indian LO at NAVCENT, Bahrain; greater interaction and coordination with CENTCOM and AFRICOM; setting up of the COMSEC account and increasing the scope and complexities of our exercises. Now LO’s at each other’s establishments could be leveraged to enhance our information sharing architecture. To sum it up, our military-tomilitary cooperation is progressing well,” Rajnath Singh pointed out.
Probable capacity building and other joint cooperation activities in third countries, including the neighbourhood and beyond, were also explored during the meeting. “We have convergence of views on a number of such proposals and will take those forward,” he stressed.
The Defence Minister welcomed the acceptance of India’s request for cooperation in the advanced field of maritime domain awareness. “Both sides agreed to comprehend the requirements and initiate processes for joint development of requisite systems and expertise,” he said.
Defence Industrial Ties
India and the US also had a very candid and useful discussion in the area of Defence Industrial Cooperation. “The recent initiative of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ in Defence sector was underlined as a key driver and a guiding factor of our Defence Industrial Cooperation. Highlighted the capabilities of Indian Defence Industry and their usefulness in the supply chain of major US platforms and systems. We have identified priority Near-Term projects for joint development between respective agencies, which need to be fast-tacked under the DTTI and resolved to work together in Defence R&D more efficiently,” said Rajnath Singh. Moreover, the Minister pointed out that the Defence Innovation field has being growing consistently in the discussions in recent years. “The instruments of ISA and iDEX/DIU MOl, which were agreed upon and signed during our last 2+2 meetings, are beginning to bear fruit. We welcomed holding of the inaugural meeting of iDEX-DIU in July 2020 through Video Conferencing and are looking forward to the first ISA Summit this year, he said.
India and the US also made an assessment of the security situation across the Indo-Pacific. “In that process, we reaffirmed our commitment to peace, stability and prosperity of all countries in this region. We also agreed that upholding the rulesbased international order, respecting the rule of law and freedom of navigation in the international seas and upholding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states are essential. Our defence cooperation is intended to further these objectives. Both sides welcomed Australia.