Ahead of 2+2 ministerial dialogue with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday held a meeting with US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper in Delhi. Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria and Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh were also present at the meeting which was held at the South Block.
Rajnath Singh and US Defence secretary Mark Esper discussed developments in Indo Pacific region, expansion of defence cooperation, intelligence sharing & cooperation on 'Make in India'. Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement are likely to be signed on Tuesday, sources have said.
Speaking on the meeting, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, "India is delighted to host US Secy of Defence, Dr Mark Esper. Our talks today were fruitful, aimed at further deepening defence cooperation in a wide range of areas. Today's discussions will add new vigour to our defence relations and mutual cooperation."
The meeting is a part of the third edition of the 2+2 ministerial dialogue between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper and their Indian counterparts, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. The two sides discussed developments in the Indo-Pacific region, expansion of defence cooperation, intelligence sharing and cooperation on 'Make in India'.
It largely pertains to geospatial intelligence and sharing information on maps and satellite images for defence. The signing of BECA would allow India to use global geospatial maps of the US for accuracy of stand-off weapons like cruise and ballistic missiles.
Meanwhile, US-India expected to sign the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA) tomorrow.
Meeting of @DefenceMinIndia Rajnath Singh and @EsperDoD will start at 3:15 pm now.— Manish Prasad (@manishindiatv) October 26, 2020
Raksha Mantri received US Counterpart. #Signing of #BECA expected. @indiatvnews https://t.co/MIM48EtVip pic.twitter.com/1l7TDwKhmP
"India is delighted to host US Secy of Defence, Dr Mark Esper. Our talks today were fruitful, aimed at further deepening defence cooperation in a wide range of areas. Today’s discussions will add new vigour to our defence relations and mutual cooperation, " Rajnath Singh said after the meeting.
Keeping coronavirus spread in mind, US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster greeted General Bipin Rawat and Admiral Karambir Singh with elbow bumps.
Later in the day, the defence minister will host a dinner for Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper. They will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.
The third edition of the high-level talks come amidst India's festering border row with China in eastern Ladakh as well as the renewed global focus on the Indo-Pacific region. The timing is also significant as the dialogue comes just a week ahead of the US Presidential election which is witnessing fiery political clashes between Republican Donald Trump and Democratic Joe Biden.