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Pompeo Warns of China 'Aggression' as India-US Ink Pact to Share Sensitive Sat, Map Data in 2+2 Dialogue

(From left) US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar address a joint press conference at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, on October 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

(From left) US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar address a joint press conference at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, on October 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held the third edition of the 2+2 talks with Pompeo and Esper at a time of heightened tension in the region, with Indian troops confronting Chinese forces on their disputed Himalayan border.

India and United States on Tuesday signed a pact to share sensitive satellite and map data as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of the threat posed by an increasingly assertive China. Pompeo, who arrived in New Delhi on Monday along with Defense Secretary Mark Esper, said after talks with respective Indian counterparts S Jaishankar and Rajnath Singh that the two countries had to work together to confront the threat China posed to security and freedom.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held the third edition of the 2+2 talks with Pompeo and Esper at a time of heightened tension in the region, with Indian troops confronting Chinese forces on their disputed Himalayan border.

The two sides signed the landmark defence pact, BECA, that will allow sharing of high-end military technology, geospatial maps and classified satellite data between their militaries, and vowed to ramp up their security ties and boost strategic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

During the talks, the US side also assured India that America stands with it as they confront threats to their sovereignty and liberty. Addressing a joint media event along with Jaishankar, Pompeo and Esper, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the two sides held comprehensive discussion on range of key issues, and dubbed the inking of BECA with the US is a "significant move".

"Our military-to-military cooperation with the US is moving forward very well," he said, adding that projects for joint development of defence equipment have been identified. "We reaffirmed our commitment to peace and security in Indo-Pacific region," Singh said.

Pompeo, in his remarks, said, during the visit they visited the war memorial to honour the soldiers that sacrificrd their lives for the world's largest democracy, including the 20 that were killed by China's PLA forces in the Galwan Valley in June.

"Our leaders, and our citizens, see with increasing clarity that the Chinese Communist Party is no friend to democracy, the rule of law, transparency, nor to freedom of navigation, the foundation of a free and open, prosperous Indo-Pacific… The US will stand with people of India as they confront threats to their sovereignty and to their liberty," Pompeo said.

The new defence pact - the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement on Geospatial Cooperation - was a "significant milestone" that would foster cooperation between the militaries of both countries, Esper told the news conference.

The United States planned to sell more fighter planes and drones to India, Esper added. The pact will give India access to a range of topographical, nautical and aeronautical data that is considered vital for targeting of missiles and armed drones.

It would also allow the United States to provide advanced navigational aids and avionics on US-supplied aircraft to India, Reuters quoted an Indian defence source as saying.

The inking of the BECA completes finalisation of four key pacts between the two countries which were identified as crucial to significantly expand the strategic ties. A key pact called General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) was signed by the two countries in 2002. The GSOMIA provides for specific measures to ensure security standards for safeguarding critical information shared by the US with India.

In a major move in 2016, the US had designated India a "Major Defence Partner" intending to elevate defence trade and technology sharing to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners. The two countries inked the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that allows their militaries use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies as well as provide for deeper cooperation.

India and the US signed another pact called COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 that provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for sale of high end technology from the US to India.


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