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WHAT HAPPENED AT 2+2 ?
After being cancelled twice in the last 14 months, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held the 2+2 dialogue with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis
•Signing of COMCASA
• India’s entry to NSG – discussions
• The two sides also announced the deployment of an Indian liaison officer at the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), which is in charge of naval operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the oil-rich Gulf countries. In a first, the two nations also decided to conduct a triservices joint exercise off the eastern coast of India in 2019.
•On H-1B visa issue
•On the H-1B visa issue, Swaraj expressed hope that the US would not “act against” the interest of Indians. “We have also discussed the H-1B visa issue. This visa impacts Indian IT rofessionals. We have appealed to the US to keep this a highpriority in our ties,”
ON PAKISTAN AND TERRORISM
In their joint statement, the ministers called on Pakistan to ensure that their territory was not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries. “We have discussed terror emanating from akistan and have agreed that Pakistan needs to do a lot more to curb terror originatingfrom it,” Swaraj said.
Welcoming the recent US move to designate three Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorists and terror financiers as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT), Swaraj said, “This listing is based on terrorism that is flourishing in Pakistan, which has equally affected India, the US and the world.”
WHAT IS COMCASA ?
• COMCASA or Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement
• The agreement will allow India to get advanced encrypted military technology and hardware from the United States.
• When a US warship or aircraft detects a Chinese warship or submarine, the Indian Navy will now get to know instantly through the transmission of secure encrypted data to a receiver installed at Naval Headquarters in New Delhi.
• The agreement will help give a legal framework for defence technology transfer.
• Signing COMCASA allows India to acquire Sea Guardian drones, which can detect and target enemy warships.
• India’s decision to sign COMCASA comes at a time when the United States has voiced its opposition to India’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile shield since it violates the US Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act.
India has already signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the US. With the singing of COMCASA, India has gone one more step ahead in strengthening India-US military ties.
LEMOA, COMCASA and BECA, or Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation, are the three foundational defence pacts that a country needs to sign to obtain cutting-edge weapons and communications systems from the US. India hopes to move ahead on BECA too in near future.
Without this agreement, the US cannot part with highly coded communication equipment with the military platforms they sell to India. India has to depend on commercially available less secure systems on, otherwise, high-end platforms like C-130Js and the P8I maritime surveillance aircraft, among others.
COMCASA will change that. Now the US government will be able to give the go-ahead to install the best communication
equipment on relevant platforms such as aircraft being sold to India.