U.S. 2+2 Dialogue: Landmark defence pact COMCASA inked; H1B discussed

World       by Muhammad Irfan | Published

The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) also will allow New Delhi to buy advanced U.S. military hardware, and give India access to a joint communication network linking the United States and Indian armed forces.

Pompeo and US Defence Secretary James Mattis met Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

"The Ministers denounced any use of terrorist proxies in the region, and in this context, they called on Pakistan to ensure that the territory under its control is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries", said the statement.

The US only signs COMCASA agreements with trusted allies, and Washington hopes to deepen its military ties with India.

"This is an important agreement and will be an advantage to India in the naval area".

"In our meeting today, we also agreed to work together to secure India's membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group at the earliest", she said. This flexibility especially would work well, when the USA alliance system itself is under strain. India trades extensively with Russian Federation and Iran, which are now facing American sanctions.

Under new United States laws, countries that make deals with Russian defence or intelligence sectors can face sanctions.

Referring to the S-400 missile deal, the sources said it was for the United States to decide on what steps it may take if India goes ahead with the procurement, notwithstanding the US' sanctions against Moscow relating to defence supplies.

"We will discuss anything that they bring up, and certainly, there'll be issues we bring up", he had said.

A first round of American sanctions - targeting Iranian access to the USA dollar, metals trading, coal, industrial software, and auto sector - took effect on August 7. With both sides willing to listen, convergence was the buzzword and after the dialogue, Pompeo and Mattis called on PM Narendra Modi, a meeting that went on for nearly an hour. It also ruled out participating in joint patrols in the South China Sea proposed by the US.

Modi, he notes, is long past the days when, as the top official in the Indian state of Gujarat, he was denied a U.S. visa because of accusations he did not do enough to quell 2002 Hindu-Muslim riots.

Experts believe the signing of the COMCASA agreement could also reduce the chances of the United States imposing sanctions on India for looking to buy Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.

Before coming to India, Pompeo held talks in Islamabad with Pakistan's new government and senior most generals.

The current outlook of the relationship may give an impression that India-US ties remain transactional. The two countries have for decades jostled for influence in war-torn Afghanistan.

Pompeo, who was accompanied by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Joseph Dunford, stayed in Islamabad for almost five hours during which he also met Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa.

With co-production and co-development projects already being pursued through the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative, the two sides "welcomed the conclusion of a Memorandum of Intent between the US Defense Innovation Unit and the Indian Defence Innovation Organisation - Innovation for Defence Excellence".

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