India and the United States signed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) during the 2+2 ministerial dialogue on Tuesday which allows both countries to share sensitive information regarding satellite and sensor data. The landmark defence pact was signed after discussions between defence minister Rajnath Singh and his visiting American counterpart Mark Esper.
In a joint statement after the signing, Singh described it as a “significant move” and said, “We reaffirmed our commitment to peace and security in Indo-Pacific region… Our military to military cooperation with the US moving forward very well and we have identified projects for joint development of defence equipment.”
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“We also agreed that upholding rules-based international order respecting rule of law and freedom of navigation in the international sea and uploading territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states are essential,” Singh also said.
US secretary of state Mark Pompeo mentioned the killing of 20 Indian Army personnel in Galwan Valley after a clash with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China and said his country stands with India to deal with any threat.
“The US and India are better aligned to protect our democracies and shared values,” Pompeo also said during the joint statement.
“Our leaders and citizens see with increasing clarity that Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is no friend to democracy, rule of law and transparency,” Pompeo said taking shots at China. “I am glad to say India and US are taking all steps to strengthen cooperation against all threats and not just those posed by CCP,” he added.
BECA is considered the last of the foundational agreements between India and the US. The agreement was proposed between the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency of the US department of defence and the defence ministry and allows India and the US to share military information which includes maps, nautical and aeronautical charts, commercial and other unclassified imagery, geodetic, geophysical, geomagnetic and gravity data.
Most of the information that will be shared under the agreement will be that of the unclassified category but there is a provision of sharing classified information as well .