INDIATOP NEWS

Rajnath Singh, Mark Esper Hold Defence Minister-Level Talks

New Delhi

A US delegation led by US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper on Monday met Indian delegation led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi. The two sides held extensive talks that covered various aspects of fast expanding defence and strategic ties, including ways to further deepen military-to-military cooperation, between India and the US.

“India is delighted to host US Secretary of Defence Dr Mark Esper. Our talks today were fruitful, aimed at further deepening defence cooperation in a wide range of areas. Today’s discussions will add new vigor to our defence relations and mutual cooperation,” Rajnath Singh said.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane, Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria and Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh were also present in the meeting.

US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster was seen greeting CDS General Bipin Rawat and Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh with elbow bumps.

/The talks at the South Block are 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.

A host of crucial bilateral, regional, and global issues — including China’s efforts to expand influence in the Indo-Pacific region as well as its aggressive behaviour in eastern Ladakh — will figure in the talks.

To further tighten the strategic partnership between the two countries, the last of the four military communication foundational agreements, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Cooperation (BECA), is expected to be signed with the US.

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 the countries are also expected to sign the Marine Information Sharing Technical Arrangement.

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