The United States and India held the high-level two-plus-two talks in New Delhi today to deepen political and security ties, with officials hoping for an accord on military communications that could lead to increased US arms sales to India.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in a two-plus-two meeting.
The world’s two largest democracies have drawn closer in recent years, seeking ways to counter-balance China’s spreading influence across Asia, notably in Pakistan, Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean.
Both India and the US are keen to sign the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), which could open up the way for sales of more sensitive US military equipment to India.
The United States has emerged as India’s second largest arms supplier, closing $15 billion worth of deals in the past decade, Once the communications accord is in place it could lead to the sale of an armed version of Guardian drones, as Washington has so far only authorized the sale of unarmed, surveillance versions of the aircraft.
Experts believe the signing of the agreement could also reduce the chances of the United States imposing sanctions on India for looking to buy Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.