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India could ink military logistics pact with US in April

Washington has been pushing for three agreements – Communications and Information SecurityMemorandum of Agreement, Logistics Support Agreement and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement.

India and the US could sign a key military logistics agreement as top officials from the two sides meet in the national Capital in April to look at ways to deepen the bilateral ties in the critical sector.

Defence sources said one of the key area of focus during the visit of US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter to India in April will be three contentious agreements that Washington has been pushing for long.

Known as the “foundational agreements”, these pacts are – Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).

“Discussions are on. Logistics agreement, tweaked as per India’s interests, is doable and may be signed. However, some more discussions is to be held on BECA,” sources said, adding that CISMOA needs detailed discussions and clarifications.

The sources had earlier said that LSA, which enables cashless supplies to each other’s armed forces on credit, is doable as it can be done on “case-by-case” basis.

“Of course no help will be extended in the event of war with our friendly countries,” the sources had said.

CISMOA allows interoperability of Indian and US equipment, which can be critical in a multi-nation operation for rescue, disaster relief or any other such matters.

Indian defence establishment has concerns about this agreement as well as the BECA, which facilitates the exchange of geospatial information between governments for military as well as civilian use.

The US has been pushing India over these agreements, arguing that by not signing them, India is itself blocking potential for defence and high-technology cooperation.

Kenneth Handelman, Deputy Assistant Secretary (Defence Trade Controls) in the State Department, had in February last year said that not signing of these pacts by India “are going to be an issue” at some point as both the countries work on high-end technology.
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