India, US line up major defence advancements

The first official said President Trump was only keen on visiting Delhi but that India insisted that he do a public event in Ahmedabad on February 24, as a kind of direct outreach to Indians.

US President Donald Trump with PM Narendra Modi(Reuters file photo)

With a trade deal off the table, India and therefore the US are looking to focus sharply on defence cooperation during the two-day visit folks President Donald Trump to India, and will, altogether likelihood, indicate a calendar for the signing of the third foundational military communication agreement between the 2 countries during the visit, top officials conversant in the matter said on condition of anonymity.

Talks on the finalisation of the essential Exchange and Co-operation Agreement (BECA) are scheduled to start as early as March, one among the officials said. BECA will allow India and therefore the US to exchange geospatial maps to urge pinpoint military accuracy of automated hardware systems and weapons like cruise and ballistic missiles, aside from its civilian use.

In addition, the 2 countries are likely to sign multiple deals for defence purchases, added this person. This includes a $2.4 billion deal for twenty-four MH-60R Sikorsky helicopters, and a $930 million deal for 6 Apache AH-64E attack helicopters for the military from Boeing, both of which were approved by the cupboard Committee on Security earlier in the week .

There could even be an extra order of eight Poseidon P8I multi-mission aircraft for the Indian Navy and a full spectrum missile shield for brand spanking new Delhi.
The forthcoming visit may be a rare one because President Trump are going to be amid First Lady Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump, and her husband Jared Kushner.

Daughter Ivanka was conveyed a private invite from PM Modi after which she agreed to accompany her parents and husband.The officials said the Trump administration suggested a visit after the US elections, but that the Indian side convinced them otherwise.

The first official said President Trump was only keen on visiting Delhi but that India insisted that he do a public event in Ahmedabad on February 24, as a kind of direct outreach to Indians. Agra, this person said, was added at the primary Lady’s insistence.

The person said that the thought is for the President and therefore the First Lady, and Kushner and Ivanka Trump to ascertain the Taj Mahal in Agra at sunset on February 24. If they create it back to Delhi early enough, this person added, they could have a quiet private dinner with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Bilateral talks are scheduled for the subsequent day.

The joint statement at the top of the talks also will likely focus strongly on terrorism and cooperation between the 2 countries on tackling it, the person said. The US, he acknowledged , had emerged India’s staunchest ally on this front in recent years — whether it’s the listing of terrorist Masood Azhar or raising the difficulty of Pakistan sheltering India’s favorite man, Dawood Ibrahim, at the Asia Pacific FATF meet.

The statement can also mention a deepening of hydrocarbon trade between the 2 countries. From almost nothing in 2014, the US’ hydrocarbon exports to India have risen to around $9 billion.
While both countries are keen on a trade deal, there are some sticky issues, the 2 officials said, adding that there’s also ambition on each side to announce a considerable deal instead of an incremental one. Market access to Indian products and tariffs remain sticky issues, they added, as does India’s digital nationalism within the financial payments space.

However, progress on BECA should help offset that, the 2 officials said.
Along with Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) and Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), BECA is one among the foundational military communication agreements between the 2 countries.

LEMOA, which allows the Indian and American defence forces to use each other’s facilities and establishes procedures of easier access of supplies and services required by them, was signed in 2016.
COMCASA, which allows the US to transfer communication system to India that allow secure transmission of knowledge and real-time information between the soldiers of the 2 countries, was sealed during last year’s Two-Plus-Two talks in Washington.

And in December last, the 2 countries signed the economic Security Annexe to the overall Security of Military Information Agreement, which provides a lift to the Make in India initiative by allowing sharing of classified information between defence manufacturers of the 2 countries with the complete backing of governments.

[Source: Hindustan Times]