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India-US 2+2 talks: Geo-spatial defence pact signed, US extends its support to India amidst border aggression from China

A landmark Defence pact called BECA which stands for Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement was signed between the two countries. Through BECA, India would get access to classified geo-spatial data as well as critical information having significant military applications from the United States.

The third edition of the India-US 2+2 talks was held on Tuesday in New Delhi between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper and India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

During the 2+2 dialogue, both sides talked on a host of crucial issues, including exploring avenues to further expand the already close ties between the militaries of the two countries as well as broader issues of mutual interest in the Indo-Pacific region.

BECA pact signed between the US and India

A landmark Defence pact called BECA which stands for Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement was signed between the two countries. Through BECA, India would get access to classified geo-spatial data as well as critical information having significant military applications from the United States.

In his brief to the press following the high-level talks held at Hyderabad House in the national capital, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh hailed the signing of BECA with the US as a “significant” move.

“We held a comprehensive discussion on an array of issues critical to both countries. The signing of BECA with US is a momentous move. Our military to military cooperation with US is also moving forward very well. We also identified projects for joint development of defence equipment. We reaffirmed our commitment to peace and security in Indo-Pacific region,” Singh said.

The talks between the United States and India at 2+2 dialogue assumes special significance given that India is embroiled in a prolong standoff with China along the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh. It is also particularly important for the Donald Trump administration in the United States whose reelection bid pivoted around the criticism of China for its unfair trade practices, growing assertiveness and its role in the coronavirus pandemic.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls out China and CCP, says they are no friend of democracies

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged the threat China and the Chinese Communist Party(CCP) pose for the region and the world.

“Our leaders & citizens see with increasing clarity that the Chinese Communist Party is no friend to democracy, rule of law, transparency… I’m glad to say India & US are taking all steps to strengthen cooperation against all threats & not just those posed by CCP,” Pompeo said.

He mentioned the steps that US and India are taking to strengthen the bilateral cooperation against all manner of threats and not just those posed by Chinese Communist Party. Pompeo cited the joint cooperation on cyber issues and the joint exercises by two navies in Indian ocean.

Mike Pompeo expresses his solidarity over loss of lives in Galwan Valley clash

Pompeo also spoke about the killing of 20 Indian soldiers at the Galwan Valley and expressed his solidarity with India against the Chinese aggression.

“We visited National War Memorial to honour brave men and women of Indian armed forces who sacrificed for the world’s largest democracy, including 20 killed by PLA in Galwan Valley. US will stand with India as they confront threats to their sovereignty and liberty,” Pompeo said.

Peace and stability in Indo-Pacific region was the focus of talks: S Jaishankar

The External Affairs Minister of India S Jaishankar said that the peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region was on the front burner of the 2+2 talks.

“The Indo Pacific region was the particular focus of our talks. We reiterated the importance of stability and peace and prosperity for all countries in this region. Discussions also covered developments in our neighbouring countries. We made clear that cross border terrorism is completely unacceptable,” Jaishankar briefed after the completion of talks with his US counterparts.

The US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper during the press briefing asserted that the expanding defence and security partnership between India and the US will keep the situation in the Indo-Pacific region under check as China seeks to expand expand its economic and military heft in the region. The BECA pact will arm India with sensitive satellite and sensor data and enable it to keep a close tab on the movements of Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean, he added.

“Based on our shared values and common interests, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific for all, particularly in light of increasing aggression and destabilising activities by China,” Esper noted.

‘Elbow bump’ draws attention

NSA Doval’s ‘Elbow Bump’ with Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper, images via ANI

During the COVID pandemic, global leaders and dignitaries are adapting different methods of greeting when meeting each other. When French President Emmanuel Macron has been popularising the Indian ‘Namaste’ as a formal greeting with foreign and domestic leaders, Pompeo and Esper’s ‘elbow bump’ with NSA Ajit Doval is gainin much traction on social media today.

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