‘India-US military dialogue fruitful, to further deepen defence cooperation’

NEW DELHI:The India-US talks on military issues here on Monday were “fruitful” and aimed at further deepening defence cooperation between two largest democracies in the world, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said.

Rajnath Singh and his US counterpart Mark T. Esper held talks on various defence and security issues ahead of 2+2 dialogue between both the countries scheduled on Tuesday.

After the bilateral meeting at the South Block, Rajnath Singh said that the talks “were fruitful, aimed at further deepening defence cooperation in a wide range of areas”.

“Today’s discussions will add new vigour to India-US defence relations and mutual cooperation,” he said.

The talks on Monday came in the run-up to the third edition of the 2+2 ministerial dialogue between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Esper and their Indian counterparts, Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, respectively.

A host of crucial bilateral, regional, and global issues — including China’s efforts to expand influence in the Indo-Pacific region as well as its aggressive behaviour in eastern Ladakh — will figure in the talks.

To further tighten the strategic partnership between the two countries, the last of the four military communication foundational agreements, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Cooperation (BECA), is expected to be signed.

It largely pertains to geospatial intelligence, and sharing information on maps and satellite images for defence.

The signing of BECA would allow India to use global geospatial maps of the US for accuracy of stand-off weapons like cruise and ballistic missiles.

Both the countries are also expected to sign the Marine Information Sharing Technical Arrangement.

The first 2+2 Ministerial dialogue was held in New Delhi in September 2018 and second ministerial dialogue happened in Washington DC in 2019.

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