India may not ink key defence pacts during Carter visit

08 April 2016

Despite prolonged negotiations, India is not yet ready to ink three defence agreements with the US - the Logistics Supply Agreement (LSA), the Communication and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for geospatial intelligence.

Ahead of the three-day India tour of US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter beginning 10 April, last-minute efforts are being made by both sides to have something ready to be announced so as to make the visit meaningful. This will be Carter's last visit to India before the election process starts in the US.

Highly placed sources told The Financial Express that the signing of CISMOA and BECA during Carter's visit is not going to happen as ''India is not ready yet to put itself in a corner and be drawn in conflicts, especially in the Middle East, which will not be in line with India's foreign policy in the region.''

While all the three agreements are largely operational and technical in nature, the US has offered to modify them as per India's requirement.

The debate around the three agreements has dragged on for long. Dr Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, Head, Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative, ORF, says, ''India is closer to signing the LSA but not CISMOA and BECA. Even on the LSA, there are people who argue that India might be drawn into conflicts in the Middle East if we are to permit the US forces access to Indian military bases.''

Though India's scepticism is understandable because typically these agreements have been signed by US allies, and India does not want to be seen as one, experts say the progress that India foresees in the area of defence and strategic goods and technologies calls for certain agreements in place that would assure the US that the information/ technologies shared with India is secure.

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