US Secretary of Defense and his Indian counterpart discussed “military to military cooperation’’ in a meeting on Monday. They also discussed the upcoming Malabar naval exercises during the meeting that happened in India’s capital.
A statement from the Indian defense ministry indicated that the two sides would sign the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA). This agreement will enable greater geospatial information sharing between the two.
The Malabar drills scheduled for November will take place in the Indian Ocean. It will feature all members of the ‘’Quad’’, an informal alliance of the US, India, Japan, and Australia. Some people have referred to this alliance as an ‘’Asian NATO’’ intended to counterbalance Chinese military strength in the region.
Earlier this month, a Quad meeting was held in Japan’s capital, Tokyo. During the meeting, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rallied against the ’’Chinese Communist Party’s cover-up’’ of the Coronavirus. He said it is more critical now than ever that they sign this defense agreement. This will protect their people from the CCP’s exploitation, corruption, and coercion.
Tensions between the two neighbors
India has long attempted to balance relations with Washington and Beijing with whom it shares a 2,100 mile-long hotly disputed border. That site has caused major tensions this year following a bloody clash between India and Chinese troops in June. The clash left dozens of soldiers dead.
The signing of the BECA agreement would likely give New Delhi access to US geospatial intelligence. Meaning the Indian weapons system along the frontier will potentially improve in accuracy.
Last month, both India and China accused the other of trespassing across the de facto border, the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Attempts at de-escalation have struggled though on September 21, both sides agreed to stop sending more troops in the disputed area.
However, the attempt at de-escalation has not stopped China’s state media from continuing to rail against India.
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