2+2 Dialogue: India-US sign COMCASA in Defence

By Vineeta Pandey | Updated: Sep 06, 2018 19:48 IST

New Delhi [India], Sept 6 (ANI): After months of hectic negotiations, India and the United States of America signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) on Thursday that enables India access advanced US defence systems.
The pact was signed following the inaugural 2+2 Dialogue between US Secretary Defence James N. Mattis, US Secretary State Michael R. Pompeo, India's Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
"Defence cooperation has emerged as the most significant dimension of our strategic partnership and as a key driver of our overall bilateral relationship," Sitharaman said after the talks.
Terming COMCASA as a landmark agreement, James Mattis said: "We will continue to work to enhance India's role as a primary major defence partner to elevate our relationship to a level of our closest ally. Today, we took a significant step by signing the COMCASA. The landmark agreement will increase our ability to share advanced defence technology making us both stronger.Today, the steps we took will pave way for closer military relationship."
COMCASA is one of three major foundational agreements in the defence sector. India has already signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 while talks are still on for the third pact - Basic Exchange and Cooperation for Geo Spatial Cooperation. COMCASA allows US to install high-end communication technology delivered by it in the Indian military systems.
"We had many productive, forward thinking conversations on our bilateral relationship. Today our two countries entered into an ambitious plan to elevate our security cooperation across a number of areas. The COMCASA is a major step forward in our defence collaboration and coordination. It will allow us to better protect freedom in the Indo-Pacific... We agreed to scale up the scope of our military cooperation," Pompeo said.
During the meeting, India conveyed to the US that it expects a non-discriminatory and predictable visa regime from the Trump government. "I sought Secretary Pompeo's support to nurture our people-to-people links. Specifically, I conveyed our expectation for a non-discriminatory and predictable approach to the H1B visa regime given its high impact on innovation, competitiveness and people-to-people partnership, all of which are a vital source of strength for our relationship," Swaraj said in a media statement after the talks.
The two countries have decided to establish hotlines to help their foreign and defence ministers remain in touch regularly. India and the US also agreed to work together to secure India's membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group at the earliest.
On the counter-terrorism cooperation, India and the US will increase information-sharing efforts on known or suspected terrorists and to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2396 on returning foreign terrorist fighters. The two countries called on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries and bring to justice expeditiously the perpetrators of the Mumbai, Pathankot, Uri and other cross-border terrorist attacks.
Spokesperson of the US Secretary State, Heather Nauert said that Pompeo and Swaraj discussed efforts to promote a rules-based order in the Indo Pacific, expand the bilateral trade relationship, move forward on civil-nuclear cooperation, and deepen people-to-people ties.
Terming the meeting as "most productive, positive and purposeful", Sitharaman said the two sides have also agreed closer defence industry cooperation and collaboration. The US had in 2016 designated India as its Major Defence Partner (MDP). Last month, the US gave India the Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 (STA-1) to allow sale of high-technology products in the field of defence and space.
India and the US will soon begin negotiations on an Industrial Security Annex (ISA) that would support closer defence industry cooperation and collaboration. India has invited the US companies to be part of the Make in India. The US has agreed to nominate a Point of Contact in its Department of Defence to help address procedural complexities and facilitate Indian companies to join the manufacturing supply chains of US defence companies.
In an effort to intensify their military-to-military ties, the two sides agreed to create a new tri-services exercise and further increase personnel exchanges between the two militaries and defence organisations and expand cooperation in the area of maritime security. "We will also enhance our interactions with the United States military's Central Command," Sitharaman said. (ANI)