Signing of BECA a significant achievement: Rajnath; India, US resolve to expand defence cooperation

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New Delhi, Oct 27 (PTI) As India and the US inked the landmark Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), the two countries on Tuesday resolved to further expand bilateral defence collaboration in a range of areas including co-development of military platforms and weapons systems.

The BECA, which provides for sharing of high-end military technology, classified satellite data and critical information, was signed during the third edition of the 2+2 dialogue between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and their US counterparts Mike Pomeo and Mark Esper.

'The signing of BECA for geo-spatial cooperation today after signing of LEMOA in 2016 and COMCASA in 2018 is a significant achievement in that direction,' Singh said at a media briefing after the talks.

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.

The COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) was inked in 2018. It provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for sale of high end technology from the US to India.

'In today's meeting we also explored probable capacity building and other joint cooperation activities in third countries, including our neighbourhood and beyond. We have convergence of views on a number of such proposals and will take those forward,' Singh said.

'I welcome the acceptance of our request for cooperation in the advanced field of maritime domain awareness. Both sides agreed to comprehend the requirements and Initiate processes for joint development of requisite systems and expertise,' he said.

A joint statement issued after the talks said the ministers reaffirmed their commitment to deepen military collaboration and to exploring opportunities to expand cooperative capacity-building efforts with partners across the region.

It said the two sides also affirmed their commitment to pursue increased cooperation between the Indian military and US Central Command and Africa Command to promote shared security interests.

'The US appreciated India’s leadership in establishing an Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR). The ministers welcomed the positioning of a liaison officer from the US Navy at the IFC-IOR and the positioning of an Indian liaison officer at NAVCENT, Bahrain and reiterated their intent to assign additional liaison officers,' it said.

The US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) is a key wing of US Navy.

The joint statement said both sides expressed satisfaction at the ongoing progress in the implementation of the provisions of the LEMOA and COMCASA, including the expansion of secure communications capabilities to include secure video teleconference capabilities between the two militaries.

It said both sides decided to work together to realise the development of their respective defense industries.

'Acknowledging India’s contributions to the global supply chain of major defence platforms and commitment to defense innovation, the ministers reiterated the importance of Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), and stated their intention to fast track projects under DTTI,' it said. PTI MPB RT