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BECA inked; India, US explore defence collaboration with other nations

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BECA inked; India, US explore defence collaboration with other nations 2

New Delhi: India and the US are exploring capacity building and joint military cooperation with countries in the region, indicating that the relationship is progressing to the next level after signing of key pacts, including the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (Beca) inked on Tuesday.

Areas of joint cooperation could include Africa and Central Asia. A combined approach to capacity building in countries of interest would counter the expanding Chinese footprint which has been powered by Beijing’s supply of arms and creation of dual use infrastructure.

“In today’s meeting we also explored probable capacity building and other joint cooperation activities in third countries, including our neighbourhood and beyond,” defence minister Rajnath Singh said after the 2+2 dialogue in the capital.

Beca is the third and final foundational agreement that US signs with trusted partners for exchange of classified information and interoperability of forces. In a joint statement they described it as a significant step towards stepping up cooperation.

“They also welcomed enhanced maritime information sharing and maritime domain awareness between the navies and affirmed their commitment to build on existing defense information-sharing at the joint-service and service-to-service levels and explore potential new areas of mutually beneficial cooperation,” the joint statement read.

While the countries with which India and the US plan to work together was not elaborated, the two sides vowed to increase ties with the US Central Command and Africa Command — the operational area of which extends right to India’s western neighbourhood.

“They also affirmed their commitment to pursue increased cooperation between the Indian military and US Central Command and Africa Command, including broader participation in exercises and conferences, so as to promote shared security interests,” the statement read, reflecting that cooperation would expand beyond maritime domain to continental interests.

Significantly, discussions also firmed up planned interactions between the Special Forces of India and the US — elite troops well versed in anti-terrorism operations and covert operations behind enemy lines.

“We do not expect the US to come and fight for us; that we have to do on our own. But there can be lot of cooperation in other things like intelligence sharing, training and material support,” sources told ET.

On joint production of weapon systems, the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) was discussed and a bilateral summit is planned later this year to strengthen defence industrial cooperation.

“We have identified priority near-term projects for joint development between respective agencies, which need to be fast tacked under the DTTI and resolved to work together in defence R&D more efficiently,” the defence minister said.

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