New Delhi: India and the United States on Tuesday signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), a crucial Defence agreement on sharing sensitive satellite data amid New Delhi’s ongoing standoff with Beijing in Eastern Ladakh.
The agreement was signed during the third 2+2 Ministerial Meeting between the two countries.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper led the US side while the Indian side was led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar.
The BECA, the fourth defence agreement between the two countries during the past nearly two decades will allow India access to precision data and topographical images from US satellites.
Under the agreement the two countries can exchange maps, nautical and aeronautical charts, geo-physical and geo-magnetic data that will help India in striking military targets with pinpoint accuracy.
The agreement becomes crucial in the backdrop of India’s standoff with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh. It will also help Indian Navy to keep a close watch on Chinese Navies in Indian Ocean.
Secretary Pompeo said, “US & 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 Indian Ocean: U.S.”
Pompeo who had talks with External Affairs Minister on Monday evening said, “We agree that the U.S.-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership is critical to the security and prosperity of both our countries, the Indo-Pacific region, and the world.”
Esper said, “Based on our shared values and common interests, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific or all particularly in the light of increasing aggression and destabilising activities by China.”