• Aditya Das

India, US ink strategic key defence pact

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

Vibha Rao

October 27, 2020

Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper in New Delhi.

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper, right, and his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh arrives at the defense ministry for a ceremonial guard of honor in New Delhi, India.

Source: AP.

Reports coming in from The Times of India state: India is now set to access advanced satellite imagery, topographical, and aeronautical digital data in real-time from the US for further enhancing the accuracy of its missiles and armed drones as well as long-range navigation of military aircraft.

"The two leaders, Singh and Esper, evaluated bilateral defense cooperation crossing military cooperation, secure communication systems and data sharing, defense trade, and industrial issues and also discussed ways to take bilateral cooperation forward. Both the ministers expressed satisfaction that agreement of BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) would be signed during the visit," reads a Ministry of Defence statement after the meeting.

The access to high-speed geospatial data will be made available after India and the US ink their final foundational military pact BECA during the 'two plus two' on Tuesday. The two leaders are also set to sign the Maritime Information Sharing Technical Arrangement (MISTA) to enhance and improve cooperation between their navies, as per The Hindu.

In an immediate reaction to the pact, Pakistan said: "India's massive acquisition of armaments and expansion of its nuclear forces, including the introduction of new destabilising weapon systems, are developments with serious repercussions for peace and stability in South Asia", according to Dawn.

In a joint statement, Pompeo said: "Our leaders and citizens see with increasing clarity that the Chinese Communist Party is no friend to democracy, rule of law, transparency", according to CNBC.

The dialogue comes amid border tensions with China. The US has censured China's aggressive actions along the LAC and the South China Sea and the two US officials will likely be soliciting their anti-china stance when they visit Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Indonesia on their way back to the US, as reported by The Hindu.

There are still some on-going concerns about BECA, especially since India has its robust satellite imaging capabilities. "But we don't have the capabilities that provide real-time and accurate data for long-range missile-targeting and navigation," said an official, according to The Hindu.

The inking of the BECA completes the finalization of four key pacts between the two countries which were identified as crucial to significantly expand the strategic ties, says The Hindu.

Sources: (The Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindu, Zee news.)

Edited by Shreya Gupta and Aditya Das

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