India gain, ‘Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement

India and the US Thursday inked a long-negotiated pact under which critical and encrypted defence technologies will be provided to the Indian military by the Americans, officials said here. The ‘Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement (COMCASA)’ was signed after the first two-plus-two talks External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had with US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis.

The COMCASA will facilitate India to obtain critical defence technologies from the US, and access critical communication network to ensure inter-operability among the US and the Indian armed forces.

It will also allow the installation of high-security US communication equipment on defence platforms being sourced from the US, officials said. India and US have decided to work for New Delhi’s NSG bid, Swaraj has said. “Given strong ties, India conveyed its expectation that US will not “act against” interests of Indians,” the FM said on H1B visa issue. “We have decided to set up “hotlines” between External Affairs Minister and Defence Minister with their US counterparts,” she said.  The issue of cross-border terrorism was also discussed during the talks.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday Washington was not seeking to punish India for its proposed purchase of a missile defense system from Russia. India faces the risk of secondary US sanctions for its planned acquisition of the S-400 system from Russia, which it says it needs as a deterrent to China, Reuters reports. “Our effort here is not to penalize a great strategic partner like India,” Pompeo said after talks with Indian leaders to advance political and security ties between the two states. He said the US was also working with New Delhi to tackle the issue of India’s oil imports from Iran, which face US sanctions.

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