Pompeo to arrive in Delhi today to conclude BECA, shares views of an open Indo-Pacific plan
On October 27, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said two officials will be assigned to continue talks with Pompeo and Esper on counter-terrorism cooperation. Apart from bilateral meetings the US designatory will also meet PM Narendra Modi and NSA Ajit Doval.
Ministerial meeting of a 2+2 plan is set in Delhi as US Secretary of State and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper arrive to meet with their Indian counterparts. New Delhi and Washington are working to cooperate at enhanced military interaction and cooperation at level of defence and security. The relations are being designed while keeping Chinese aggression and hostility in the region.
Pompeo tweeted on Sunday night, “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 #IndoPacific composed of independent, strong, and prosperous nations.”
India and US are set to conclude the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) during this visit. BECA will be a crucial pact that would enable India use US intelligence on a broad geographical level, thereby strengthening the weapons and automated systems accuracy.
A senior US official said, “With respect to military-to-military engagement, we are working to build greater interoperability by increasing the sophistication of our combined exercises. The passing exercise between the Indian Navy and the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group this summer is just one example. The recent refueling of one of our Navy P-8 aircraft in Port Blair is another example.”
“Over the past year, we have placed a US liaison officer at the Information Fusion Center-Indian Ocean Region. That is India’s maritime domain awareness fusion center that they host. And an Indian liaison was placed at US Central Command… both of these have enhanced coordination and information sharing between our navies. We also hope to confirm two additional Indian liaison officer placements in the near term to expand counterterrorism cooperation,” he added.
Citing the increased aggression from Chinese military evident during latest clashes between Chinese and Indian troops at the LAC, the US and Indian diplomats will work on strengthening strategic alignment and working together to promote “free and open Indo-Pacific”.
India became a strategic defence partner of US in 2016 and in 2018 held the first 2+2 ministerial meeting. As a continuation of partnership, PM Modi had visited US in 2019 and US President Donald Trump visited India in February this year.
The two nations are also working towards defence trade. In this direction India this year has acquired Apache and Seahawk helicopters, and the US is seeking to advance sales for several platforms including fighter aircraft and UAVs.