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India, US hold Defence Minister-level talks

Updated October 26, 2020 19:37 IST
US Secretary of Defence, Dr Mark Esper
US Secretary of Defence, Dr Mark Esper inspects the tri-services Guard of Honor on his arrival at South Block ahead of his bilateral meeting with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday (IANS)

A meeting between visiting US Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper and India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh started here on Monday to discuss various issues.

The talks at the South Block are part of the third edition of the 2+2 ministerial dialogue between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper and their Indian counterparts, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

A host of crucial bilateral, regional, and global issues — including China’s efforts to expand influence in the Indo-Pacific region as well as its aggressive behavior in eastern Ladakh — will figure in the talks.

To further tighten the strategic partnership between the two countries, the last of the four military communication foundational agreements, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Cooperation (BECA), is expected to be signed with the US.

It largely pertains to geospatial intelligence and sharing information on maps and satellite images for defence.

The signing of BECA would allow India to use global geospatial maps of the US for accuracy of stand-off weapons like cruise and ballistic missiles.

Both countries are also expected to sign the Marine Information Sharing Technical Arrangement.

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