2+2 dialogue: India-US sign COMCASA agreement, discuss cross-border terror
New Delhi, Sep 6: India and the United States (US) on Thursday signed on the the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) agreement which will facilitate the use of high-end secured communication equipment to be installed on military platforms being sold to India.
The Comcasa was signed in Delhi after the first '2+2' talks between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis.
Apart from this, discussions on several other key issues were during the '2+2' dialogue held between the two countries today. Swaraj, after the meeting, said that both countries have agreed to work together towards entry of India in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
"We welcome President Trump's policy on Afghanistan. We are working together in the fight against terror," Swaraj said.
"We welcome United States' recent designation of terrorists as a part of Lashkar-e-Taiba. These listing are based on terrorism that is flourishing in Pakistan, which has equally affected India, US and the world," she added.
The much anticipated '2+2' dialogue was held between Sushma Swaraj, Nirmala Sitharam with their US counterparts Mike Pompeo and James Mattis.
"Signing of Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) will enable India to access advanced technologies from USA..In today's meeting we reaffirmed to cooperate in every possible way to ensure peace, prosperity and development. Also pledged to continue cooperation against terrorism and other security challenges," Sitharaman said after the meeting.
On Wednesday, Pompeo and Mattis arrived in the national capital on Wednesday. Reflecting the importance of the talks to be held on Thursday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj received Pompeo, while Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman welcomed her US counterpart Jim Mattis at the Palam airport.
"We will be meeting PM Modi on how to advance relationship in the new era of growth under his leadership and President Trump. We had many productive and forward thinking conversations on our bilateral relationship and our shared future," said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after '2+2' talks.
While Pompeo termed the 'Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement (COMCASA)' agreement a "milestone" in the relationship, Sitharaman asserted that the pact will enhance India's defence capability and preparedness.
Defense Secretary James Mattis said: "We will continue working together, join hands and expand India's role as a primary major defence partner, to elevate our relationship to a level to commence with our closest allies and partners."
What is COMCASA?
The Comcasa provides the legal framework for the US to part with its sensitive communication equipment and codes to enable transfer of realtime operational information. This equipment is largely used for ground-toair communication, installed US-origin military aircraft to enable best battle situation awareness. The US data link is considered the most secure communication platform, which will also allow India access to big data base of American intelligence, including real-time imagery.
It is part of a set of three military agreements that the US considers "foundational" for a functional military relationship. In August 2016, India had signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), which allows the military of each country to replenish from the other's bases. Negotiations on the third agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA), have not yet begun.