Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper arrive in India . . .
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper landed in India today to meet with their counterparts and participate in the third 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue on Tuesday. The 2+2 dialogue, which replaces the earlier India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, aims to strengthen strategic co-ordination between the U.S. and India to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific. The meeting will specifically focus on regional security co-operation and defence information-sharing. Secretary Pompeo will then travel to Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia.
Military deal could give India access to drone tech . . .
The U.S. and India have agreed to sign a Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement on Geospatial Cooperation (BECA). The BECA is the latest in a string of military agreements that the U.S. has signed with India, all of which incrementally help enable interoperability of military forces. In particular, the BECA will allow for sharing sensitive satellite data, a key step to enable India to acquire armed drones. Over the past years, Washington and New Delhi have been increasingly co-operating on defence and security issues. For example, India has significantly increased defence equipment purchases from the U.S. from almost nothing 10 years ago to about US$20 billion in 2020.
Asian states wary of choosing sides . . .
Secretary Pompeo's South and Southeast Asia tour comes at a time of Asian states' heightening tensions with China. For example, India has been locked in its most serious military standoff with China in decades at their disputed Himalayan border. And other countries in Southeast Asia have been struggling with a belligerent China in the South China Sea. But countries in the region have remained careful not to side entirely with either the U.S. or China, as doing so could either alienate their largest trading partner or security provider.
- Foreign Affairs: The overreach of the China hawks
- Reuters: In Asia, Pompeo expected to bolster allies against China
- U.S. Department of State: Secretary Pompeo’s travel to India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia