U.S. keen on finalising Geo-Spatial cooperation at 2+2 dialogue in October

A maritime information pact is also under active consideration between the two nations

September 17, 2020 11:11 pm | Updated 11:11 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Representational image.

Representational image.

The U.S. is keen that India sign the last foundational agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation (BECA), at the next India-U.S. 2+2 ministerial dialogue likely to held in October end, a defence source said on Thursday.

A meeting of the Quad Foreign Ministers is scheduled to take place in Tokyo in October, the source said. Earlier, the meeting was expected to be held in New Delhi.

“The U.S. wants BECA to be signed at the ministerial 2+2 in October. Indian draft with our suggestions has been sent to them,” the source said stating negotiations are far from over and it is unlikely to be signed by October. The timing of the 2+2 comes just before the U.S. elections in November and there is still no clarity on the dates.

A maritime information agreement is also under active deliberation between India and the U.S., the source said. Once concluded, India will have such arrangements with all Quad countries — Australia, Japan and the U.S.

Beginning 2016, India has signed three foundational agreements: the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) while the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) was signed a long time ago. An extension to the GSOMIA, the Industrial Security Annex (ISA), was signed at the last 2+2 dialogue.

There has been a sharp increase in India’s maritime interactions with the Quad countries on a bilateral basis centred around information sharing for improved Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) in the Indian Ocean Region and Indo-Pacific.

Ahead of the dialogue, the virtual intersessional 2+2 meeting on September 9 attended by senior officials from both sides. The US. State Department said in a statement the two sides discussed a range of bilateral, regional and multilateral issues, including combating COVID-19, counter terrorism, India’s membership in the U.N. Security Council, support for good governance and sustainable development in the Indo-Pacific region and “efforts to counteract recent destabilising actions in South Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region”. “Both sides agreed to further strengthen consultation through United States-India-Australia-Japan Quadrilateral consultations.”

While LEMOA has since been operationalised, COMCASA is at advanced stages of being operationalised. In increasing military to military interactions, the U.S. has posted a liaison officer at the Navy’s Information Fusion Centre for Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) meant to promote MDA.

India has recently posted a liaison officer at the U.S. Navy Central Command in Bahrain and is also considering a U.S. request for posting liaison officers at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) and the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).

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