2+2 talks: India, USA ink critical def pact; discuss cross-border terror, H1B

2+2 talks: India, USA ink critical def pact; discuss cross-border terror, H1B

NEW DELHI: A long-negotiated defence pact under which critical and encrypted defence technologies will be provided to the Indian military by the United States of America (USA) was inked here Thursday after the two countries held their first 2+2 dialogue during which they also discussed key issues, including cross-border terrorism, india’s NSG bid and contentious H1B visa issue.nnDuring the 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 two countries also decided to set up hotlines between them.nnAddressing a joint press conference, Swaraj expressed satisfaction over the agenda of the inaugural dialogue while giving the details of the deliberations.nnWhile Pompeo termed the ‘Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement (COMCASA)’ agreement a “milestone” in the relationship, Sitharaman asserted that the pact will enhance India’s defence capability and preparedness.nnThe COMCASA will facilitate India to obtain critical defence technologies from the US, and access critical communication network to ensure interoperability among the US and the Indian armed forces.nnIt will also allow the installation of high-security US communication equipment on defence platforms being sourced from the US.nnSwaraj also said given strong bilateral ties, India has conveyed to US Secretary Pompeo its expectation that US will not “act against” interests of Indians while taking a decision on H1B visa issue.nnSource: Press Trust of India

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