U.S., India may not sign security pact at 2+2 meet

Published: 02:56 GMT, Sep 3, 2018 |

At the 2+2 dialogue between India and the U.S. here on coming Thursday (September 6), an announcement could be made about an in-principle agreement between the two sides on the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), but its signing is doubtful, say officials on both sides.

“Work is still on. Some form of announcement is expected. Lawyers on both sides are looking into the draft. In the week prior, they did some adjustments in the text,” an official familiar with the process said.

While the contours of the agreement have been agreed upon, last-minute deliberations are under way to address specific concerns in the language. “As of now, it is difficult to say if it would be signed during the 2+2,” another official said.

Diplomatic sources, too, while expressing the hope that the agreement would be signed, said realistically it was not clear yet. This is a similar trajectory followed when India signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Understanding. The two sides announced an “in-principle” decision to conclude it during the then U.S. Secretary of Defence Ash Carter’s visit to Delhi in April 2016. However, it was concluded only when the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar visited the U.S. in August that year.

The US which has designated India a Major Defence Partner (MDP) has repeatedly stated that the foundational agreements were essential critical for India to gain access to cutting edge technology.

The COMCASA will facilitate exchange of secure communications between the two militaries and allow the sale of encrypted communication systems to India. For a long time there have been concerns that this would allow US to listen into Indian secure communication channels. But these have been gradually overcome and India agreed to move forward with the agreement.

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