See More on Facebook

Analysis, News

Will India sign pact with US for secure military communications?

After being postponed twice this year, the inaugural ‘2+2’ meeting also marks the 10th anniversary of the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal.


Written by

Updated: September 4, 2018

India and the United States are set for a significant bilateral meeting on September 6, when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis will hold the first ‘Two plus Two (2+2)’ dialogue with India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The 2+2 dialogue is aimed at building a high level of trust between the two countries and will be the first of an annual series of dialogues on security issues to be held alternately in each country.

US President Donald Trump’s National Security Strategy of December 2017 called India a “major defence partner of the US”, and in light of last week’s cancellation of the US$300 million in payments to Pakistan for its failure to act against terrorists, the meet has assumed greater significance.

The inaugural 2+2 meeting, already postponed twice this year, also marks the 10th anniversary of the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal.

On the table will be Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) – a legal framework for transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India. Observers say there is likely to be an in-principle agreement on COMCASA between the two sides at the dialogue, but its signing is unlikely.

COMCASA aims to facilitate exchange of secure communications between the two militaries and allow the sale of encrypted communication systems to India, which has been met with concerns on the Indian side. A US military negotiating team was in New Delhi last month to respond to Indian objections. The US has signed similar agreements with other countries called the Communication and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA).

The US – India’s second-largest supplier of defence hardware – designated it as a Major Defence Partner (MDP) and is keen on COMCASA for India to gain access to cutting edge technology. The militaries of India and the US exercise more with each other than they do with any other nation. And, this year, they will hold their first joint services amphibious exercise, to be followed by a joint services counter-terrorism exercise next year, media reports said.

COMCASA is part of of three military agreements that the US considers foundational for a functional military relationship. In August 2016, India signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), which allows the military of each country to replenish warships from the other’s bases. Negotiations on the third agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA), have not yet begun, media reports said.

However, defence experts are wary of the draconian Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which imposes sanctions on New Delhi’s two strategic partners – Russia, India’s largest arms supplier, and Iran, one of its three largest energy suppliers. Indian military officials have said they intend to raise the possible impact of CAATSA on a planned US$5-billion deal to acquire S-400 air defence systems from Russia.

Though President Trump recently signed a law that allows for case-by-case waivers under CAATSA, recent remarks by American officials have created doubts as to whether the US will provide a waiver for the S-400 deal.

Other issues on the table will be the US tightening regulations for granting H-1B work visas, which has affected Indians in a big way. For its part, India has put on hold the imposition of tariffs on US imports of steel and aluminium in view of the dialogue.

Washington sees India as a regional counter to China’s growing influence. India is also a key member of the ‘Quadrilateral’ – an informal grouping of democracies comprising the US, Japan, Australia and India.

India’s moves will be measured and will have to tread lightly in the meetings when it comes to many of its neighbors. India does not want to provoke China, even though it is opposed to Beijing’s sprawling Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It will also want to go easy on Iran, with which it has co-developed the strategic Chabahar port that gives it access to Afghanistan and Central Asia, while bypassing Pakistan. India will have to be similarly careful about topics related to Russia, from which it plans to buy the S-400 air defence system.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Lamat R Hasan
About the Author: Lamat is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis, News

Swift assistance needed to rehabilitate Hokkaido’s quake-stricken industries

To realize Hokkaido’s post-quake rehabilitation, it is indispensable to rebuild its industries. A half month has passed since the Hokkaido earthquake, which registered the highest level on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7. A power blackout that spread to all parts of the prefecture has been resolved. The No. 1 unit at the Tomato-Atsuma thermal power plant — a facility that plays a central role in the supply of electricity there — has been brought back on line. The government has withdrawn its request for power-saving, and neon lighting has returned to flourishing areas in Sapporo. However, scars from the earthquake have not yet healed. Even if the amount of direct damage, including that caused to roads, rivers and forest land, is calculated alone, the figure exceeds ¥150 billion. There are still many disaster victims in evacuation centers. T


By The Japan News
September 25, 2018

Analysis, News

Maldives strongman Abdulla Yameen in shock election defeat

The Maldivian election was watched closely as an indicator of China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean region. Maldives strongman Abdulla Yameen’s hopes for a second presidential term were dashed on September 24 with opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih defeating him in the country’s elections. After a months-long sweeping crackdown on the opposition and a brief state of emergency imposed by the autocratic Yameen, the election on September 23 was preceded by a bitter campaign during which opposition leaders frequently accused the ruling regime of rights abuses and oppression. Several independent news websites reported that after the counting of a majority of the votes, Solih had won more than 58 per cent of the votes to 41 per cent for Yameen. Hours after the emergence of the informal results, Yameen conceded defeat to Solih during a televised news conference, saying: “Mal


By Lamat R Hasan
September 25, 2018

Analysis, News

Thai seafood giant to address slavery issues at UN

Thailand’s progress in promoting human rights in the fishing industry will be addressed in a panel session on modern slavery and human trafficking at the United Nations General Assembly by seafood giants Thai Union. Darian McBain, global director of sustainability for the Thai Union Group, will address the panel on the topic of “Stepping up Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking”. “Thailand has made a number of advances on human rights, which should be commended, but there is more work to be done and I believe Thailand has the opportunity b


By The Nation (Thailand)
September 24, 2018

Analysis, News

Opinion: One Belt, One Road: We must secure our interest

Shah Husain Imam argues in the Daily Star that Bangladesh must put its interests first in joining China’s One Belt, One Road initiative. The ancient Silk Road, of which the Belt and Road Initiative is a gigantic new avatar, dates back to the Chinese Han Dynasty’s westward expansion more than 2100 years ago. The Road derived its name from the lucrative silk trade along the routes through which it branched into what are today the central Asian countries Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, as well as present-day Pakistan and India to the south. These routes eventually spanned 4,000 miles to Europe. Interestingly, silk was regarded as more precious than gold as a commodity in those times as if to convey the misty romanticism with the old world charm about a fine fabric. At any rate, the Silk Road by no means offered silken smooth passage to travellers like Marco P


By Daily Star
September 21, 2018

Analysis, News

The aftermath of super-Typhoon Mangkhut

Typhoon Mangkhut, which swept through the Philippines, Hong Kong and Southern China over the weekend will go down on history as one of the regions most powerful storms in years. The Philippines In the Philippines, the aftermath of the storm which locally bore the name “Ompong” has been devastating. More than half a million people have been impacted and the latest death toll shows that the typhoon claimed the lives of at least 74 people and injured 74 more. As many as 55 people are still missing. The majority of those casualties are related to the dozens of landslides that tore through the Cordillera Administrative Region, a gold-mining zone. The search effort for those who are still missing has been slow-going. Major roads were rendered impassable, making heavy e


By Quinn Libson
September 19, 2018

Analysis, News

How a new party trumped the ruling PDP in Bhutan’s primary polls

In its third election as a full-fledged democracy, Bhutanese came out in large numbers to oust the ruling People’s Democratic Party run by Harvard-educated Tshering Tobgay. Come October 18 and Bhutan will witness a close fight between one of its oldest political parties – Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) – and Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT), a new party that has gained popularity in the recent past. The tiny Himalayan kingdom – called Druk Yul in Bhutanese (Land of the Thunder Dragon) – is nestled between economic rivals China and India. It opened up to the world as late as the 1970s. Before Bhutan became a two-party parliamentary democracy in March 2008, the Wangchuck hereditary monarchy wielded power from 1907. On September 15, Bhutanese


By Lamat R Hasan
September 19, 2018