Ahead of 2+2 ministerial dialogue with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday held a meeting with US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper in Delhi. Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria and Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh were also present at the meeting which was held at the South Block.
The meeting is a part of the third edition of the 2+2 ministerial dialogue between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper and their Indian counterparts, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. As per sources, the two sides are expected to sign the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA).
It largely pertains to geospatial intelligence and sharing information on maps and satellite images for defence. The signing of BECA would allow India to use global geospatial maps of the US for accuracy of stand-off weapons like cruise and ballistic missiles.
Both countries are also expected to sign the Marine Information Sharing Technical Arrangement.
Keeping coronavirus spread in mind, US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster greeted General Bipin Rawat and Admiral Karambir Singh with elbow bumps.
Later in the day, the defence minister will host a dinner for Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper. They will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.
The third edition of the high-level talks come amidst India’s festering border row with China in eastern Ladakh as well as the renewed global focus on the Indo-Pacific region. The timing is also significant as the dialogue comes just a week ahead of the US Presidential election which is witnessing fiery political clashes between Republican Donald Trump and Democratic Joe Biden.