US, India to share sensitive satellite data
Defense Secretary Mark Esper — who is in New Delhi along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for security talks meant to counter Chinese influence in the region — met with his Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh, and discussed the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for geo-spatial cooperation, according to the Indian Ministry of Defense.
“The two ministers expressed satisfaction that agreement of BECA will be signed during the visit,” the ministry said in a statement.
The agreement is expected to be signed following formal talks Tuesday, which come as tensions between India and China are on the rise.
New Delhi and Beijing are in the midst of a military standoff over the two countries' disputed Himalayan border, where a clash between soldiers in June caused at least 20 casualties, the first deadly incident between the two nations at the border in decades.
The United States also has had worsening ties with China over the past several years stemming from Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus, its aggression in the South China Sea, its new security law in Hong Kong and a trade war between Washington and Beijing.
The BECA would give India access to topographical, nautical and aeronautical intelligence needed for targeting missiles and armed drones, Reuters reported.
It would also allow for the sharing of sensitive information and communications to better use the billions of dollars in weapons that U.S. companies have sold India in the past decade.
Following Esper’s meeting with Singh, the Indian defense minister tweeted that talks “were fruitful,” and “aimed at further deepening defence cooperation in a wide range of areas.”
Pompeo, meanwhile, is to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and “other government and business leaders on ways to advance the U.S.-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership,” according to the State Department.
He will then travel to Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia, which recently rejected a U.S. request to allow its spy planes to land and refuel in the Southeast Asian country.
Sri Lanka and the Maldives, meanwhile, are home to several Chinese-funded and built road, rail and sea infrastructure projects, which put the tiny island nations in Beijing’s debt. The projects are part of President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road Initiative” to link China to the rest of the continent and beyond, alarming the United States.