India, US ink critical defence pact

New Delhi

The United States and India held talks to deepen political and security ties on Thursday, signing a crucial agreement on military communications that could lead to increased US arms sales to New Delhi.
The Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement (Comcasa) was signed in Delhi after the first ‘2+2’ talks between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman with US secretary of state Michael R Pompeo and defence secretary James Mattis.
Earlier Swaraj and Pompeo had held bilateral talks. Comcasa, which will allow the militaries of the two countries to securely communicate with each other, had been stalled for years because of India’s concerns that it would open up its communications network to the US military.
Addressing a joint press conference, Swaraj expressed satisfaction over the agenda of the inaugural dialogue while Sitharaman said that the momentum in the bilateral defence partnership “has imbued a tremendous positive energy that has elevated India-US relations to unprecedented heights”.
“In today’s meeting, we reaffirmed to cooperate in every possible way to ensure peace, prosperity and development,” the defence matter added, as per news agency ANI.
Pompeo said the accord was a “major step” forward that officials have previously said would allow the US to transfer high-tech equipment such as armed surveillance drones.
New Delhi has been seeking the drones to monitor the Indian Ocean where China, a close ally of Pakistan, has been making repeated forays in recent years, reported Reuters.

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