New Delhi: India and the United States have signed the landmark defence pact, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) during the third round of 2 + 2 India-US ministerial dialogue on Tuesday. Defence ministry’s Additional Secretary Jivesh Nandan signed the agreement on behalf of India. Also Read - India Deploys MARCOS In Eastern Ladakh, Naval Commandos To Get New Boats Soon

The signing of the long-negotiated Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) comes in the backdrop of India’s tense border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajath Singh held the talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper. Both sides were assisted by their top military and security officials. Also Read - UK PM Johnson Speaks with PM Modi on COVID-19 Vaccines, Climate Change And Trade

It has been said that the agreement (BECA) will give India access to classified geo-spatial data as well as critical information having significant military applications from the US. Also Read - Serum Institute to Provide 3 Crore Vaccine Doses to Dhaka as India Signs Deal With Bangladesh

“Today is real opportunity for 2 great democracies like ours to grow closer, as I said on my trip to India last year when I called for a new age of ambition in our relation. I think we’ve delivered on that over the past year. There is much more work to do”, said US Secretary Pompeo, in his opening remarks at the US-India 2+2 Ministerial dialogue.

Defeating Pandemic

He also asserted that India and US can cooperate on defeating the pandemic that originated from Wuhan and confront the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to the security and freedom in the region.

“We have a lot to discuss today, from cooperating on defeating the pandemic that originated in Wuhan, to confronting the Chinese Communist Party’s threats to security and freedom, to promoting peace and stability throughout the region,” US Secretary added.

Strengthening defence and security partnership

Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said both countries must focus on institutionalising cooperation to meet the challenges of the day and uphold the principles of a free and open India-Pacific.

“We have strengthened our defence and security partnership considerably since then, especially over the past year, during which we advanced our regional security, military-to-military, and information-sharing cooperation. Our focus now must be on institutionalising and regularising our cooperation to meet the challenges of the day and uphold the principles of a free and open Indo-Pacific well into the future,” Esper said.

Reviving Economy

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during the ministerial meeting said,”Our economies have suffered losses. We’re trying to revive industries & service sectors. Our partnership becomes more important in view of the current challenges we’re facing. We both believe in rule-based order & democracy.”

He added, “We are happy that we’ve completed the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement), which will open new avenues in the information sharing. We are eager to discuss further issues with the US.”

Bilateral Relationship 

“Over the last two decades, our bilateral relationship has grown steadily. At a time when it is particularly important to uphold the rules-based international order…together we can make a real difference when it comes to regional & global challenges,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said during the dialogue.