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US and India to discuss new agreements to strengthen ties

Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E. Biegun meets with Indian Defense Secretary Ajay Kumar in New Delhi, India, on October 14, 2020. (Photo courtesy of the Indian Ministry of Defense/U.S. State Department)
October 15, 2020

The United States and India spoke this week about finalizing agreements for the sharing of technology, personnel contact, and parliamentary exchanges beyond the existing Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA). Any finalization of such agreements is expected to take place during the upcoming “2+2” talks between the foreign and defense ministers of both nations in Delhi during October 26-27.

Talks of concluding these pacts took place during a visit by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, who met with Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla on Tuesday for broad discussions, the Economic Times reported.

The two high ranking officials also discussed the developments occurring along the infamous Line of Actual Control (LAC), said the people. While the U.S. stood firm in its stance on China, India also explained the need for talks on the diplomatic and military levels in order to end the stand-off.

Shringla and Biegun also reportedly spoke about India’s eastern neighbor, Bangladesh. Shringla, in particular, emphasized the need to align positions on India’s eastern neighbor due to the geopolitical significance of the country in the Bay of Bengal.

The month of October has hosted multiple engagements between the two nations, starting from the Quadrilateral in Tokyo, followed by Biegun’s trip, and the upcoming “2+2” talks.

On Monday, Biegun put forward what he described as a “vision of Pax Indo-Pacifica”, describing it as a “region at peace, protected and made prosperous in equal measure by those who comprise the Indo-Pacific”.

Indo-US relations are expected to grow closer, as the two are actively holding talks to continue facilitating mutual investments, partnerships, and support.

“I have had the privilege of working directly on this relationship in Washington DC,” said Shringla. “I can attest to the fact that our companies are investing more in each other’s markets, our universities teach and research more with each other, our defense and security establishments work closely together, our innovators solve problems together, our healthcare systems are developing convergences, and our counterterrorism and law enforcement officials support each other.”