New Delhi: (Defence News) Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had a bilateral meeting with US Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper in South Block here in New Delhi on Monday. US Foreign Secretary Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper are visiting India for the third edition of the 2+2 talks with their Indian counterparts Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and Rajnath Singh. The two ministers reviewed bilateral defence cooperation spanning military to military cooperation, secure communication systems and information sharing, defence trade and industrial issues and also discussed ways to take bilateral cooperation forward. It has been said in a post-meeting press release issued by the Ministry of Defence that both sides will sign the agreement of BECA during Esper's visit. "The two ministers expressed satisfaction that agreement of BECA will be signed during the visit," it said.
Last week only the US had said that it was watching the India-China standoff in Ladakh closely to ensure that the situation did not escalate. The agreement of BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) is the third and final "foundational" understanding the US has with close international partners. BECA will ensure India gets access to precision data and topographical images on a real-time basis – from the United States military satellites.
Ministry of Defence in the press release has said that the both the Ministers expressed satisfaction at the close engagements between the respective Armed Forces. "They discussed potential new areas of cooperation, both at Service to Service level and at the joint level. They called for the continuation of existing defence dialogue mechanisms during the pandemic, at all levels, particularly the Military Cooperation Group (MCG). They also discussed requirements of expanding deployments of liaison officers" it added.
During the meeting, Defence Minister elaborated upon the initiatives under the 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat in Defence' to encourage investments in the defence industry in India and invited US companies to make avail of the liberalized policies and the favourable Defence Industry ecosystem in India. He added that the talks would add "new vigour" to India-US defence relations and cooperation.
US Secretary Defence welcomed Australia's participation in next month's Malabar exercise – a series of annual drills that began in 1992 to reinforce cooperation between Indian and American naval forces. India, with the US, Japan and Australia will hold the high-level Malabar naval exercise next month. Australia is returning to Malabar exercise for the first time since 2007 when its participation drew criticism from China.
(PSU Watch– India's Business News centre that places the spotlight on PSUs, Bureaucracy, Defence and Public Policy is now on Telegram. Join PSU Watch Channel in your Telegram and stay updated)