– BECA to be inked soon Besides reviewing bilateral defence cooperation, regional issues related to Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the Indo-Pacific, the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) will be topping the agenda of Defence minister Nirmala Sithraman’s visit to the US next week.
During her three day visit starting Dec 3, sources confirmed to FE that, “The BECA is topping the agenda as this is will allow exchange of geospatial information between India and the US for both military and civilian use.”
The two countries have been in discussions towards the early conclusion of the BECA which has been pending for a while. “New Delhi has been during discussions insisted on India-specific assurances,” explained a senior officer on condition of anonymity. Such an agreement between the two countries wills layout protocols for the sharing of mapping and other geospatial data securely between the two sides.
The defence minister during her meeting with her counterpart US Secretary of Defence James Mattis is expected to seek waiver on CAATSA for the recent deals including two Grigorovich-class ‘Project 1135.6’ frigates for the Indian Navy and the S-400 Triumf air defence missile system from Russia.
Reportedly, Mattis has been pushing for a waiver for countries like India, after the US President Donald Trump had signed a law last year which said that any country trading with Russia’s military sector would face sanctions.
Besides reviewing Afghanistan, Pakistan and China situations the two sides will also discuss an entire gamut of issues of interests to both sides. Sources confirmed that the two sides during the meeting will discuss the Indo-Pacific Region.
In September this year, at the end of the first 2+2 India-US Strategic Dialogue, the two countries had concluded a third so-called foundational agreement to facilitate closer defense cooperation when they inked a Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA).
According to the joint statement released at the end of talks between Minister of External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Minister of Defense Nirmala Sitharaman and both US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis , the COMCASA agreement will facilitate access to advanced defense systems and enable India to optimally utilize its existing US-origin platforms. COMCASA will open up the possibility of India importing US systems unencumbered by possible limitations on guidance, communication, and sensor technologies.
Both countries have already inked the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 and the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002. The LEMOA agreement allows the use of each other’s land, air and naval bases for repair and resupply, a step toward building defense relations.
COMCASA will open up the possibility of India importing US systems unencumbered by possible limitations on guidance, communication, and sensor technologies.