BECA and the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue: An Overview

Updated: May 26

Anjali Kumari,

Research Intern,

Internationalism Research.

The 2+2 ministerial dialogue is the highest level institutional mechanism that took place between any two countries. It is conducted in the form of a dialogue where the defence/foreign ministers or secretaries meet with their counterparts. The 2+2 third Ministerial Dialogue between India and the U.S took place on 27th October 2020. India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of External Affairs S.Jaishankar welcomed U.S Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and the then Secretary of Defense Dr Mark T. Esper. They applauded the advancement of the India-U.S ties to a Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership which was culminated during the visit of Donald J. Trump to India in February 2020. This is an important dialogue that ensures a sense of institutionalization of bilateral ties not limited to the sole motive of forming bilateral excessive reliance between the political leadership of the respective countries but also sculpts a framework that amplifies confluence in all spheres.

Enhancing Defense and Security Collaboration

Addressing the 15th anniversary of the launching U.S-India Defense Framework Agreement, during the dialogue the Ministers commanded that it has exceptionally become an extensive, strong, and proficient Major Defense Partnership (MDP) between India and the United States. One of the noteworthy outcomes of this dialogue was the India-US Basic Exchange Co-operation Agreement for geo-spatial co-ordination. It is known as (BECA), which would allow India and the US to access a wide variety of geospatial data from each other such as descriptive maps, nautical and aeronautical charts.[1] The agreement will allow a structure for the classical data in the domain to be shared. This data is of great importance as it will allow India’s long-range missiles the ability to targets thousands of kilometres away with great accuracy.

From, now on India will have the access to highly accurate navigation satellite networks. BECA is usually referred to as the fourth one in the thread of “foundational agreements” with complex short forms General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (COMCASA), and BECA that the US signed with only those countries with which it wants to have a deeper defence agreement.[2] The defence ties were signed in the background when China is emerging as a threat for India because of the old age issue of contention of Eastern Ladakh hence the dialogue held great significance from India’s point of view. Despite various agreements signed, and complex exercises undertaken to strengthen their relation, and US strong messaging on the recent tension on LAC, it is important to mention here that India-US co-operation is not an alliance and will never be one but the expanding ties reinstate an assured message- that the US will always be a powerful partner.[3] The Ministers further assured the commitment to enhance the two-sided defense discourse and co-operation and to extract opportunities to increase the efforts that are capacity-building in nature with their alliances across the regions. Further, they pronounced their dedication to pursuing the expansion of cooperation between the Indian military and U.S Central Command including conferences and exercises to promote shared security interests. They discussed the relevance of the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) and further aspire to fast track their projects under this.

Collaboration between the two countries during COVID-19 Pandemic

Both the countries appreciated the co-operation between them in tackling challenges caused due to COVID-19 pandemic. They further reprise on the fact of strengthening their co-operation in the development of vaccines, therapeutics, ventilators, and other medical equipment. The ministers are also looking forward to the MoUs that are going to sign between them so that in the future they can conduct the research mainly concentrated on widespread diseases like COVID-19 or any such infections in the coming future. Observing, the significance of health sector co-operation, they are ready for conducting a health dialogue in recent times.

Enhancing the India-US bilateral ties

The ministers further satisfactorily observed the remarkable growth of the Strategic Energy Partnership (SEP) covering Oil & Gas, Power, and Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Growth. Reinstating the historic nuclear agreement signed between the two countries, they are hopeful of the new project Division of Responsibility principles between Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and Westinghouse Electric Company (WEC) for the establishment of nuclear reactors. They acknowledged the virtual conference of the 17th meeting of the India-US Counter-Terrorism Joint Working Group and the third session in the row of the India-US Designations Dialogue on September, 09-10, 2020. They jointly condemn the terrorist activities and the violence in the cross borders in all forms. They emphasized that strict actions must be inflicted against the terrorist organizations which include Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Lashkar-e-Taiyyab (LeT), and, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). They also called on Pakistan to does not allow any terrorist action to take place within their territory, and to bring justice to the attackers of 26/11, Uri and Pathankot.[4] The USA assured its support to India in protecting its territorial sovereignty, regarding the ongoing standoff between India and China. Both the countries also released a Joint Statement on shared Indo-USA goals in the Indo-Pacific region, and also highlight that the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea should not overshadow the authorized rights and interests of any other nation that are not in obedience to the International Law. Earlier in October, the ministers met for the very first time where they agreed to co-operate on “free and open Indo Pacific” that represents China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region. Emphasizing the relevance of securing the economic and security interests of all the partner countries who have a legalized interest in the region, they welcomed the participation of enlarging interests among like-minded countries.

Fostering the people-to-people union