Defence pact with India on geospatial information sharing in the works: US

The United States on Thursday said Basic Exchange and Communication Agreement (BECA, a defence pact on the sharing of geospatial information, is “in the works” at the upcoming 2+2 ministerial dialogue next week with India.

A senior American official also said the situation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC, where India is on a stand-off with China, will probably figure in the talks, and that the US has beening the situation closely.

Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper, the US secretaries of state and defence, are reaching New Delhi on Monday for the third annual 2+2 ministerial with their Indian counterparts S Jaishankar and Rajnath Singh. They will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We’re in the process of finalising a lot of the discussions right now. And so, I know that BECA and other agreements are in the works,” Dean R Thompson, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, told reporters when asked about BECA. “I’m not going to, I think, commit to anything right this minute, but we do expect to have several items highlighted as we go through the trip.”

The two sides are expected to sign BECA, the fourth and last of the so-called foundational defence agreements during the 2+2, and a maritime information sharing pact. At a think tank event Wednesday, secretary Esper said he did not rule out the signing of the maritime agreement.

In response to a question if tensions along the border with China will figure in the talks, Thompson said, “Certainly I think the situation, you know, on the Line of Actual Control will probably be discussed at some point. And, you know, we’reing the situation closely.”

The US state department official said the 2+2 format “is reserved for our closest friends and partners and reflects our belief that the United States and India are stronger, more secure, and more prosperous, when we work together”.

He added that discussions will focus on global cooperation on pandemic response and challenges in the Indo-Pacific, economic space and energy collaboration, people-to-people ties and defence and security cooperation.

Defence pact with India on geospatial information sharing in the works: US