2+2 Dialogue: India-US sign historic COMCASA agreement to share intel

Aaron Brown
September 7, 2018

Mattis and Pompeo were due to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later on Thursday.

"We talked about their new government, the opportunity to reset the relationship between our two countries across a broad spectrum - economic and business and commercial", Pompeo explained, adding that Washington desired improved ties in all aspects. "Given those values, India and the United States have a natural starting point for advancing at free and open Indo-Pacific". Each views the other as a useful partner in checking China's ambitions in Asia and as an ally in counterterrorism efforts.

The U.S. and India haven't always been this close.

The COMCASA agreement will allow exchange of secure communication between the two militaries and facilitate the sale of high tech encryption systems to India.

The COMCASA will facilitate India to obtain critical defence technologies from the U.S., and access critical communication network to ensure interoperability among the USA and the Indian armed forces.

"If the Indian establishment is willing to move forward with politically tricky but operationally meaningful agreements, I take that as a good sign", said Joshua White, who served as a senior adviser on South Asian affairs at the National Security Council under the Obama administration. Defense cooperation "has emerged as the most significant dimension of our strategic partnership and a key driver of our overall bilateral relationship", she said Thursday.

But in realms apart from defense, the relationship has progressed more haltingly.

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Pompeo said that the U.S. wants to bridge the trade deficit with India, reported ANI. They avoided taking any questions from the media apparently in view of differences between the two sides over India's oil purchases from Iran and its defence relationship with Russian Federation.

The twice-delayed dialogue was earlier scheduled for July 6 in Washington, but was postponed by the USA on June 27, citing "unavoidable reasons".

The COMCASA will also provide a legal framework for defence technology transfer between the United States and India and help New Delhi acquire critical platforms like Sea Guardian drones from the US.

Many countries, including India, "are in a place where it takes them a little bit of time to unwind" oil imports from Iran, he said. "They will certainly come up, but I don't think they will be the primary focus of what it is we are trying to accomplish here", he said.

Iran reached a deal with originally six world powers in 2015, agreeing to curb its nuclear program in return for mainly the lifting of restrictions on its oil sales.

Pompeo also clarified that in India, while issues like the effect of U.S. sanctions on India's purchase of the S400 Triumpf air missile defence system from Russian Federation and oil from Iran might be discussed, they would not be stumbling blocks in the talks.

On May 8, 2018, US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of Washington from the agreement, and called on all its partners not to make deals with Iran. "Thus the objective of the sanctions", Pompeo said. "We are working together in the fight against terror", she said. While the Comcasa might make it technically possible for the U.S. to access Indian data because the encryption and decryption codes for communication equipment will be sourced from the USA, insiders said, India has managed to secure a specific assurance from Washington that it will not share Indian data with any entity without prior consent from New Delhi.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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