News Analysis |
A senior level US military delegation discussed vital issues with Indian authorities ahead of the upcoming two-plus-two ministerial level dialogue scheduled to be held in New Delhi on September 6. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman from the Indian side, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis from the United States will participate in the maiden strategic dialogue.
The new dialogue format was announced during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington on June 25-26, 2017. His first-ever meeting with US President Donald Trump was seen as a vehicle to elevate the strategic relationship between the two countries.
According to the Integrated Defence Staff, which is coordinating on behalf of the ministry of defence, Indo-US Military Cooperation Meeting co-chaired by Lt Gen Satish Dua, Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) and Lt Gen Bryan Fenton, Deputy Commander, Indo Pacific Command concluded two-day long discussion as a prelude to the two-plus-two dialogue between the two countries.
The last decade has seen a closeness in relations between the USA and India. Many analysts cite this endearment as being caused by American attempts to contain the rising power of China through proxies and “pivots”.
“Several critical issues were discussed in the meeting to take forward the bilateral military cooperation, ahead of the two-plus-two meeting at the apex level. Both sides signed the joint minutes of the meeting held in the Mankeshaw Centre in Delhi cantonment yesterday,” said an official.
According to a key South Block official, who is privy to the development, several important points were taken up during the discussion. First, armed forces of both India and the US are working on a bilateral amphibious exercise, engaging all three services (army, navy and air force) in the near future. At present, India does such military exercise, involving all three wings of armed forces, only with Russia.
Secondly, after Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), other two ‘foundational’ agreements—the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) and the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)—which have been pending for long due to their “intrusive” element, are also expected to be on the table for further discussion.
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Sincere efforts were made from both sides to address concerns related the COMCASA, which provides the transfer of critical, secure and encrypted communications between weapon platforms to facilitate “interoperability.” In 2016, India has signed the LEMOA with the United States which allows their military to work closely and use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.
Besides, critical issue of how India can be benefited from the recently approved waiver from the CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions), will also figure in the next month’s strategic dialogue. Waiver from the CAATSA will pave way for procurement of $ 400 air defence missile system from Russia. Meanwhile, India and the United States have moved a step closer in resolving trade disputes, with India agreeing to accept some of the US’ demands on medical devices and electronics (IT).
A senior level US military delegation discussed vital issues with Indian authorities ahead of the upcoming two-plus-two ministerial level dialogue scheduled to be held in New Delhi on September 6.
The two countries have discussed concessions on medical devices, dairy and IT products, sources told the paper. It is still unclear if there has been breakthrough on US tariffs on steel and aluminium, and India’s retaliatory tariffs, the report said. The update on the trade issue is likely to be announced before the 2+2 talks between India and the US, which will be held in September. Commerce minister Suresh Prabhu spoke to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer last week, according to reports.
For medical devices, India will probably cap the prices for some US products, instead of imposing direct price controls, the report added. India has insisted that IT products from the US meet Indian standards outlined in the Compulsory Registration Scheme for IT products. But India could rationalize costs since the US says the products already meet US standards, which are more stringent.
Dairy products is an area where India is unlikely to compromise due to cultural barriers, the report said. A lot of the milk and dairy products from the US are “non-vegetarian” because cattle feed includes bonemeal. The last decade has seen a closeness in relations between the USA and India. Many analysts cite this endearment as being caused by American attempts to contain the rising power of China through proxies and “pivots”.