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With eye on China, India, US sign landmark military pact
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 28 - 10 - 2020

The United States and India have reaffirmed their defensive and security relationship, as Washington continues to rally allies in Asia amid concerns over increased Chinese military activity in the region.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh signed a landmark military agreement, enabling greater information-sharing and further defense cooperation between the two countries.
The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement on Geospatial Cooperation (BECA) will give India access to topographical and aeronautical data considered vital for targeting missiles and armed drones.
It's the latest in a series of US-India military agreements designed to counter China's growing power in the Indo-Pacific region.
Commenting on the new agreement, the US defense secretary said: "The defense ties between our two nations remain a key pillar of our overall bilateral relationship."
"Based on our shared values and common interests, we stand shoulder to shoulder in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific for all, particularly in light of increasing aggression and destabilizing activities by China," Esper added.
The Indian defense minister said that the agreement furthered the two sides' ongoing commitment to the "law and freedom of navigation in the international seas" while "upholding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states."
"Today's US-India 2+2 ministerial was a success. The bond between our nations is built on the foundation of a longstanding friendship, partnership, and vibrant democratic traditions. Thank you Dr. S. Jaishankar, Esper, and Rajnath Singh for yet another successful dialogue, Pompeo said commending the efforts of the Indian foreign minister, the US defense secretary, and the Indian defense minister.
Both India and the US are due to participate in the upcoming Malabar naval exercises which will be held in the Indian Ocean next month. The drills will feature all members of the so-called Quad, an informal alliance of the US, India, Japan, and Australia, which has been proposed by some as a potential "Asian NATO," intended to counterbalance Chinese military strength in the region.


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