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US-India defence ties

India has signed a military agreement with the United States for the sharing of sensitive satellite data and held dialogue aimed at countering the growing Chinese power in the region. The pact prompted quick reaction from Pakistan, warning of serious repercussions for peace and stability in South Asia.

India and the US have teamed up against their mutual rival China amid heightened tension in the region. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mike Esper flew to New Delhi for a strategic dialogue aimed at increasing cooperation against ‘Chinese threats’. Rather than bilateral issues, the talks targeted the Communist Party of China which Pompeo stated was not a “friend of democracy, rule of law, transparency, and freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region.”

India is embroiled in a border dispute with China in the Himalayan region, while the US is ramping up pressure on Beijing on a range of issues. The two sides signed an agreement on sharing satellite data for military purposes in real time. The pact called BECA would provide India with access to a range of data considering vital for firing of missiles and armed drones.

The signing of the defence pact should be a cause for concerns as both countries have teamed up against China which has warned to use its military strength. The US will also provide advanced navigational aids aircraft, while India is likely to sign agreements with US companies for sharing of sensitive information for military equipment.

The US has sold India more than $21 billion worth weapons since 2007 and now US Defense Secretary Esper is pressing the case for India to buy F-18 jets rather than relying on Russian systems. India has acquired massive weapons, expanding its nuclear arsenal and conducting missile tests. This is another manifestation of the threat India poses to the region.

The timing of the dialogue just weeks before the US presidential election indicates that Washington is focused on advancing ties with India. The statement at the end of talks states that the partnership between both countries is “critical to the security and prosperity of both countries.”  The deepening US-India ties could have serious implications for Pakistan and the region. As China stated, the US will have to end the Cold War mentality by stopping harping on the Chinese threat.