India and the United States on Tuesday signed the much-awaited Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), which is the last of four foundational agreements for strengthening defence ties, allowing the militaries of the two countries to share geospatial information, high-end military technology and classified satellite data on defence-related issues.
Defence ministry's Additional Secretary Jivesh Nandan signed the agreement on behalf of the Indian government.
"Our military-to-military cooperation is progressing very well. In two days meeting, we also explored probable capacity building and other joint cooperation activities in third countries including our neighbourhood and beyond," said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh after 2+2 India-US Ministerial Dialogue.
"We also agreed that upholding rules-based international order respecting rule of law and freedom of navigation in the international sea and upholding territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states are essential," he added.
US Secretary of Defence, Mark Esper called the partnership between the two countries "more important than ever".
"As the world confronts a global pandemic and growing security challenges, the India-US partnership is more important than ever to ensure security, stability and prosperity of the region and the world," Esper said at the briefing.
He added, "Based on our shared values and common interests, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder in support of a free and open India-Pacific for all, particularly in light of increasing aggression and destabilising activities by China."
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo today assured that the United States would stand with India as it "confronts threats" to its sovereignty and liberty.
"The United States will stand by the people of India as they confront threats to their sovereignty and liberty. Our nations are committed to working together into expanding our partnerships across many fronts," Pompeo said.
Pompeo who had arrived in India on Monday for the first leg of his four nations' tour will later in the day leave for Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia. While in India he led the US delegation including Defense Secretary Mark Esper for the 2+2 ministerial dialogue.
"The US and India are taking steps to strengthen our cooperation against all manner of threats and not just those posed by the Chinese Communist Party. Last year, we have expanded our cooperation on cyber issues, our navies have help joint exercises in the Indian ocean," Pompeo said in the media interaction following the meeting.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during the talks underlined the importance of stability and peace of the India-Pacific region.
"The India-Pacific region was the particular focus of our talks. We reiterated the importance of stability and peace and prosperity for all countries in this region," said Jaishankar.