India and the United States are likely to sign a military communications pact during the ‘2+2’ meeting in New Delhi in the first week of September.
The government has made up its mind to sign the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA). The government has asked the US to send the final text of the agreement, so that the process of signing can be expedited in time for the meeting, Indian Express quoted an unnamed official as saying Thursday.
The ‘2+2’ meeting is scheduled to be held on September 6. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be attending the meeting, along with their American counterparts, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James Mattis.
The meeting has been postponed twice. The government has considered concerns of access to data encryption in communication systems and sharing it with other countries. There is also fear among the defense services that a lot of Russian-origin and domestic Indian military platforms may not be compatible with COMCASA, the news daily reported.
The COMCASA is meant to provide a legal framework for transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India to facilitate ‘interoperability between their forces and potentially with other militaries that use US-origin systems for secured data links.
The general agreement signed by the US with other countries is called the Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) but the name was changed to COMCASA to reflect its India-specific nature. A US military negotiating team was in New Delhi last month to respond to Indian objections and formulate a mutually acceptable text for the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement.
COMCASA is part of a set of three military agreements that the US considers “foundational” for a functional military relationship. In August 2016, India had signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), which allows the military of each country to replenish from the other’s bases. Negotiations on the third agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA), have not yet begun.