2+2 talks India, US ink critical defence pact; discuss H1B

Vastavam web: A long-negotiated defence pact under which critical and encrypted defence technologies will be provided to the Indian military by the US was inked here Thursday after the two countries held their first 2+2 dialogue during which they also discussed key issues, including cross-border terrorism, india’s NSG bid and contentious H1B visa issue. During the talks External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had with US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis, the two countries also decided to set up hotlines between them.

While Pompeo termed the ‘Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement (COMCASA)’ agreement a “milestone” in the relationship, Sitharaman asserted that the pact will enhance India’s defence capability and preparedness. The COMCASA will facilitate India to obtain critical defence technologies from the US, and access critical communication network to ensure interoperability among the US and the Indian armed forces. It will also allow the installation of high-security US communication equipment on defence platforms being sourced from the US.