New Delhi: India is preparing to sign a third major strategic agreement with the United States. Earlier, India and the United States have strengthened their defence ties through the LEMOA (Logistic Exchange Memorandum of Agreement) and COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) now the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) will be signed between the two countries.
An Indian delegation, led by the Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra, recently visited the United States. It is said that the strategic agreement was discussed during the visit. As per sources, Defence Secretary Mitra held discussions with John Rudd, the Under-secretary of the Policy section of the defence department and his colleagues regarding the agreement.
A few years ago, the United States awarded the status of a Major Defence Partner, to India. This status is considered to be a major stage in the military and strategic cooperation between the two countries. After this, major exchanges in the defence sector have started between the two countries and LEMOA and COMCASA are said to be a part of the same exchange. Moreover, there have been agreements signed for fighter jets, helicopters, missiles, drones and armed vehicles, worth billions of dollars between the two countries, in the last few years.
Along with the agreement, both the countries are keen on the exchange of military information and technology, and the new agreement is said to be a part of the same initiative. It is claimed that with this agreement, India will be benefited with the use of Geospatial Intelligence and Automated Hardware Systems of the United States. As per sources, the United States has already sent the draft of the agreement to India.
The negotiations of the agreement are going on for some time now, and India had objected to some of the clauses and provisions. It has been revealed after the visit of the Indian delegation that the clauses objected by India have been taken care of by the United States, before presenting the draft to India. Therefore, India is positive about the agreement, and it is believed the BECA agreement will be signed between India and the United States, before the end of this year.
As per the provision in the LEMOA agreement, defence forces of both the countries are allowed to access each other’s bases and the resources available there. Whereas, the COMACA agreement allows secured communication and information interchange between the defence forces of both the countries and it also has a provision to supply advanced communications equipment to India by the United States.
As per the defence agreement between the United States and India advanced US helicopters, Apache, have joined the Indian defence forces, only a few days ago. Against this background, the preparations of the new defence agreement become significant. A trade dispute seems to be brewing between India and the United States, since the last few months. But that will not affect the cooperation between the two countries. US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo had asserted that India is an essential partner to the United States and it will continue to remain so. The reflections of his statements are seen in the BECA agreement.