2+2 Dialogue: India, US sign COMCASA agreement; no decision on Russian missiles

by Elton Gomes

At the inaugural 2+2 dialogue between India and the US held in New Delhi, both nations signed the long-negotiated Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA). The agreement will now allow New Delhi to purchase sensitive American military equipment.

While Secretary Pompeo termed the agreement a “milestone” in the US-India relationship, Sitharaman was confident that the pact will enhance India’s defence capability and preparedness.

The COMCASA provides the legal mechanism that allows exchange of cyber communications, surveillance data, transfer of communication equipment, and setting up secure communication channels.

In addition to signing the COMCASA, Sitharaman also announced that India and the US will conduct their first ever joint tri-services off the eastern coast of India inn 2019.

Defence collaboration

Important subjects in terms of defence were discussed during the meeting. Improving collaboration in the private defence industry was discussed, wherein Indian defence manufacturers would be allowed to join the US military supply chain. Defence Secretary Mattis and Sitharaman announced that India and US are ready to begin negotiations on an Industrial Security Annex (ISA) that would support closer defence industry cooperation and collaboration.

Furthering defence innovation, a Memorandum of Intent was signed between the US Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) and the Indian Defence Innovation Organization. The Innovation for Defence Excellence (DIO-iDEX) will now look into joint projects for co-production and co-development projects through the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).

No decision on S-400 Russian missiles, says Pompeo

During the meeting, Secretary of State Pompeo said that no decision has been made on the S-400 Russian missiles. India’s Rs 40,000 crore deal with Russia to procure a batch of S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems seems to be stuck with the looming threat of US sanctions.

New Delhi’s NSG bid to be fast-tracked

India was expected to push for a bid to gain entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). External minister Swaraj said that India and the US agreed on working together so that India can be included in the NSG.

“We have agreed to speed up the process of India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” Swaraj said, the Indian Express reported. The Trump administration had previously endorsed India’s push for membership, but New Delhi faced a hurdle from Beijing, which insisted that India was not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

H-1B visa issue

India raised its concerns over the H-1B visa issue, and Swaraj expressed hope that the US will not “act against” the interest of Indians.

“We have also discussed the H-1B visa issue. This visa impacts Indian IT professionals. We have appealed to the US to keep this a high-priority in our ties,” Swaraj said, as per the Indian Express report.

US to help India in tracking down Dawood

The US also assured India that it would help its government in tracking down underworld don and mastermind of 1993 Mumbai blasts – Dawood Ibrahim. Pompeo and Mattis have agreed to exert more pressure on Pakistan to stifle terrorism that operates from its soil.

“We have discussed terror emanating from Pakistan and have agreed that Pakistan needs to do a lot more to curb terror originating from it,” Swaraj said, the Indian Express reported.

The two sides also expressed support for an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process. “We welcome President Trump’s policy on Afghanistan. We are working together in the fight against terror,” Swaraj said, as per the Indian Express.

Mattis, Pompeo brief PM Modi

Secretaries Pompeo and Mattis briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the maiden 2+2 dialogue between the two countries. A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said that the two briefed the prime minister on the “fruitful and productive” 2+2 dialogue held earlier.

Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius

2+2 dialogueCOMCASADawood IbrahimH1BModiNuclear Suppliers GroupRussian missile