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India to sign military agreement with US on sharing of satellite data


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India and the United States will sign a military agreement on sharing of satellite data during the current visit by US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the Indian defence ministry said on Monday, deepening strategic ties.

The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement on Geospatial Cooperation (BECA) will allow India access to topographical, nautical and aeronautical data for better accuracy of weapons like missiles and drones.

Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in New Delhi for a top-level security dialogue on Tuesday, seen as part of efforts to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the region.

“The two ministers expressed satisfaction that agreement of BECA will be signed during the visit,” the Indian defence ministry said following Esper’s talks with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

Pompeo is due to meet India‘s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Monday evening, before he and Esper hold a joint summit with Jaishankar and Rajnath Singh on Tuesday.

Later that day, Pompeo and Esper will call on India‘s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to a draft itinerary of the trip released by India‘s foreign ministry.

The trip is part of the latest US effort to bolster allies against an increasingly assertive China, which has been making political and military inroads across Asia, analysts say.

Pompeo is due to travel to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, two Indian Ocean countries where China has financed and built various infrastructure, to the alarm of India and the United States.

India is locked in a military standoff with China on their contested Himalayan border.

Pompeo will end his trip, which comes in the final week before the US presidential election, in Indonesia, one of several Southeast Asian countries wary of growing Chinese activities in the disputed South China Sea.


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