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US and India sign major BECA defense pact

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper participate in the U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue Plenary Session with Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, in New Delhi, India, on October 27, 2020. [State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha]
October 29, 2020

On October 27, 2020, India finally sealed the long-awaited Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) pact with the United States that was pending since 2016, Financial Express reported. The agreement was signed by top U.S. officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, with their Indian counterparts External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during the third edition of the 2+2 Indo-US Ministerial Dialogue in New Delhi.

During a media conference, Indian Defense Minister Singh called BECA Pact a “significant move” and hailed the emergence of the Indo-US Strategic partnership on a new level.

The BECA pact is a Geo-Spatial cooperation pact which permits both nations to exchange unclassified and controlled classified data with high tier intelligence sharing. This exchange includes geospatial logistics, topographical, nautical, and aeronautical data, with strategic scale services between India’s intelligence network and the U.S. National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency (NGA).

BECA pact is the final agreement in the US’s four foundational agreements that it signs with India to leverage the interoperability with them as an ally. The U.S. also signed four critical Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), including Technical Cooperation in Earth Observations and Earth Sciences; Regularised Arrangement for extending the duration of MoU in cooperation with the Global Center for Nuclear Energy Partnership with India; an Agreement for the Electronic Exchange of Customs Data between Postal Operations of both nations, and final one for Letter of Intent for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences.

Previously India signed the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002. Later under the Trump administration, the U.S. elevated the cooperation with India by signing historic
Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) which was followed by COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 and, and now BECA to conclude the four foundational agreements between U.S. and India.

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After signing BECA, China canceled the border talks with India which were being called to resolve the border conflict on LAC.

With each deal and agreement, the U.S. is strengthening its relationship with India in the defense and intelligence sectors. Through such steps, both nations marking the way for broader Indo Pacific security cooperation and increasing the might of the QUAD-in region.