India, US ink COMCASA
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India, US ink COMCASA

New Delhi, Sep 6: India and the United States on Thursday inked the much awaited and talked about Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) that will further enhance ties between two sides.

A joint statement issued here said both sides "welcomed" the signing of a Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) that "will facilitate access to advanced defense systems and enable India to optimally utilize its existing US-origin platforms."

The statement at the end of '2 Plus 2 Dialogue' participated by US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, US Secretary Defence James Mattis and their two Indian counterparts Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman also announced their "readiness to begin negotiations" on an Industrial Security Annex (ISA) that would support closer defense industry cooperation and collaboration.

The pact was inked by Defence Minister Ms Sitharaman and the US Secretary of Defence Mr Mattis.

"The agreement is a historic step towards strengthening defence cooperation between the two nations," Ms Sitharaman tweeted.

COMCASA would in effect help India to procure encrypted communication systems from the US for military platforms like the C-17, C-130 and P-8Is.

Till date, India was generally dependent on commercially available communication systems.

COMCASA is actually only a part of four-pronged agreement piloted by the US.

India has already signed two of the four agreements, the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSIMOA) in 2002 and the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016.

However, the decision of both sides on Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) is being awaited.

Welcoming the expansion of bilateral counter-terrorism cooperation, the Ministers announced their intent to increase information-sharing efforts on known or suspected terrorists and to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2396 on returning foreign terrorist fighters.

"They committed to enhance their ongoing cooperation in multilateral fora such as the UN and FATF. They reaffirmed their support for a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that will advance and strengthen the framework for global cooperation and reinforce the message that no cause or grievance justifies terrorism," the joint statement said.

They also 'denounced' any use of terrorist proxies in the region, and in this context, they called on Pakistan to ensure that "the territory under its control is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries".

"On the eve of the 10-year anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai attack, they called on Pakistan to bring to justice expeditiously the perpetrators of the Mumbai, Pathankot, Uri, and other cross-border terrorist attacks. The Ministers welcomed the launch of a bilateral dialogue on designation of terrorists in 2017, which is strengthening cooperation and action against terrorist groups, including Al-Qa’ida, ISIS, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizb-ul Mujahideen, the Haqqani Network, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, D-Company, and their affiliates".

The two sides further reaffirmed their commitment to ongoing and future cooperation to ensure a stable cyberspace environment and to prevent cyber-attacks. (UNI)