COMCASA: India to get access to real-time encrypted information from US

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In June 2016, the United States had designated India as "Major Defence Partner" intending to elevate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.

The two sides also said hotlines would be set up between the Indian defence minister and her United States counterpart and the Indian foreign minister and her U.S. counterpart.

Beijing is in the midst of a massive militarization effort that includes island building in the South China Sea, a more powerful navy, military exercises and establishing outposts across the region.

"We have made a decision to carry out for the first time a tri-services joint exercise with the United States off the eastern coast of India in 2019", Sitharaman said.

Both Pompeo and Mattis arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday for the inaugural Indo-US two-plus-two talks which was finalised during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Washington past year. This is the first ever 2+2 talks between the two nations.

Following the "2+2" dialogue, which included Mattis" and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's Indian counterparts, the two sides announced the signing of the COMCASA agreement, which Mattis said paved the way for sharing "sensitive technology' with India.

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What are the benefits of signing COMCASA? Our discussions have paved the way for a new era in India-US defence and strategic engagement.

There are sticking points, however, including the purchase by India of Iranian oil and the Russian S-400 ground-to-air missile system, which could trigger US sanctions on India.

None of the four officials who spoke to reporters after the summit but did not take questions mentioned whether the S-400 issue had come up.

Pompeo told journalists travelling with him that the United States would work with India on its planned purchase of a Russian missile and air-defense system known as the S-400.

India is the world's third-biggest oil importer and Iran's second after China.

India already has bought US Apache attack helicopters and other gear, and is negotiating to buy armed drones.

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The US has signed similar pacts with less than 30 other countries, the report added, citing a senior US defence official.

Pompeo denied he had anything to do with the letter.

The United States has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russian Federation, under which any country engaged with its defense and intelligence sectors could face secondary USA sanctions. It has since been pressuring Iran's crude clients to halt their purchases from the Islamic Republic.

Pompeo added that "India and the United States.should continue to ensure the freedom of the seas and the skies; uphold the peaceful resolution of territorial maritime disputes; promote market-based economics; support good governance, fundamental rights, and liberties; and prevent external economic coercion".

The U.S. and India, he said, already have the foundation in their commitment to "a safe, secure prosperous and free Indo-Pacific region where sovereignty of all nations is respected, worldwide norms are upheld, disputes are resolved peacefully and nations freely transit global waters and airspace". "And so very consistent what President Trump is seeking all around the world are the things we talked about with our Indian counterparts here today", Pompeo said in response to a question.

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