Indo-US 2+2 talks: Both countries to enhance bilateral cooperation in defence sector, Indo-Pacific security

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The defence minister said that he talked to Esper on Monday on bilateral defence issues and continued the discussions on larger regional and global perspective on Tuesday over the 2+2

India and the US on Tuesday signed the crucial Indo-US Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) on bilateral cooperation in the defence sector and security-related matters connected to geo-spatial intelligence, sharing information on maps and satellite images for defence purposes.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held the third edition of the Indo-US 2+2 talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper Pompeo and Esper, who reached India on Monday.

“We have had comprehensive discussions on key aspects of our bilateral and multilateral cooperation. We considered the major challenges we face. The need for quick economic recovery and growth, prevention of the pandemic, rebuild the global supply chains and related issues received obvious priority in our discussions,” said Rajnath Singh after the meeting with the US secretaries.

The defence minister said that he talked to Esper on Monday on bilateral defence issues and continued the discussions on larger regional and global perspective on Tuesday over the 2+2.

He said that signing of BECA for geo-spatial cooperation after signing of  LEMOA in 2016 and COMCASA in 2018 is a significant achievement in that direction.

“In Tuesday'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,” said Singh.

He hailed the US decision to accept India’s 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 added.

In the defence industrial cooperation area, the defence minister said that the recent initiative of 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' in defence sector was underlined as a key driver and a guiding factor of India’s defence industrial cooperation.

“We have identified priority near-term projects for joint development between respective agencies, which need to be fast tacked under the DTTI and resolved to work together in defence R&D more efficiently,” said the defence minister.

Defence innovation field has being growing consistently in our discussions in recent years, The instruments of ISA and iDEX/DIU MOl, which were agreed upon and signed during our last 2+2 meetings, are beginning to bear fruit, he said.

“We welcomed holding of the inaugural meeting of iDEX-DIU in July 2020 through Video Conferencing and are looking forward to the first ISA Summit this year,” said Singh.

On the security situation across the Indo-Pacific region, the defence minister said both the countries reaffirmed their commitment to peace, stability and prosperity of all countries in this region. Both sides agreed that upholding the rules based international order, respecting the rule of law and freedom of navigation in the international seas and upholding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states are essential, said Singh.

“Our defence cooperation is intended to further these objectives. Both sides welcomed Australia joining the forthcoming Malabar Exercise,” he added.

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