U.S signs deal allowing India to buy advanced military hardware in two plus two meeting

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James Mattis pose beside India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman before the start of their meeting in New Delhi, September 6, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

The United States and India, in the highly anticipated two plus two meeting, signed the high-level COMCASA defence agreement today that would allow India to buy advanced American military hardware, Reuters reported. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with External Affairs Minister of India Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister of India Nirmala Sitharaman.

“This meet was a focus on regional stability in South Asia, South-East Asia and Indo-Pacific… India being a part of groups like the ASEAN also help greatly in this endeavour,” Foreign Minister of India Sushma Swaraj said. “In today’s meet we have agreed to speed up the process of India’s entry into the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group),” Sushma Swaraj said.

“We have agreed on a hot line between… (Nirmala) Sitharaman and (Jim) Mattis,” Mike Pompeo said. “India and the US stand for freedom and democratic values… and we aim to extend this across the Indo-Pacific… we will work at different levels to ensure a free Indo-Pacific,” he said.

Both India and US have shown concerns over Pakistan-based anti-Western and anti-Indian terror groups.  The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) which has been signed looks to increase sales of sensitive US military equipment to India.

“Defence came out as the single-most important aspect of our discussions today,” Nirmala Sitharaman said.

“We have been discussing how we can more openly communicate back and forth because of the sensitivity of some of the technology… we have to know that when we share this with another like-minded nation, that we can keep it secure,” Mattis had earlier said. “I think that we’re pretty much there already, on the American side.”

Ahead of New Delhi talks, a senior US State Department official said the United States was engaged in “very detailed conversations” with India over Washington’s request to completely stop India’s oil imports from Iran.

“We’re asking all of our partners, not just India, to reduce to zero oil imports from Iran and so I’m confident that will be part of our conversation with India,” the official told to reporters who were accompanying Pompeo.

Earlier, the State Department announced that the inaugural ‘two-plus-two dialogue’ between India and the US which would be held on September 6 in New Delhi. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis are expected to arrive for the visit, reported PTI.

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