India-US BECA Agreement: A day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper arrived in India, both the countries signed the strategically important Indo-US Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), which enables both the countries to share geo-spatial intelligence, maps and satellite images for defence purposes. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held the third edition of the 2+2 talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Defence Secretary Mark T Esper.
After inking the pact, India’s defence minister Rajnath Singh talked about protecting territorial integrity and sovereignty.
“We held a comprehensive discussion on a range of key issues. Inking of BECA with the US is a significant move. Our military-to-military cooperation with the US moving forward very well. We identified projects for joint development of defence equipment. We reaffirmed our commitment to peace and security in Indo-Pacific region,” Rajnath Singh said.
US Defence Secretary Mark Esper, on the other hand, talked about increasing aggression and destabilising activities by China while Mike Pompeo referred to the violent face-off between Indian Army and Chinese PLA in Galwan Valley in Ladakh region in June this year in which 20 Indian soldiers and unconfirmed number of PLA soldiers were killed.
“We visited National War Memorial to honour brave men & women of Indian armed forces who sacrificed for the world’s largest democracy, including 20 killed by PLA in Galwan Valley. The US will stand with India as they confront threats to their sovereignty, liberty,” Mike Pompeo said.
“The US and India are taking steps to strengthen our cooperation against all manner of threats & not just those posed by Chinese Communist Party. Last year, we’ve expanded our cooperation on cyber issues, our navies have held joint exercises in the Indian ocean,” the US leader added.
During the meeting on Tuesday night, both sides highlighted the need to take forward shared objectives and build capabilities across all domains so as to ensure a safe, stable and rule-based regional and global security environment.
The signing of BECA agreement allows India to use US geospatial intelligence and enhance accuracy of automated systems and weapons like missiles and armed drones.
It gives India access to topographical and aeronautical data and advanced products which will aid navigation and targeting. This is crucial for cooperation between the air forces of the two countries.
The cooperation also includes sharing of high-end satellite images, telephone intercepts, and data exchange on Chinese troops and weapons deployment along the 3,488-km India-China LAC.