It is likely that India will give its approval to a landmark military communications agreement with the United States during a high-level talk on Thursday, laying the ground for Washington to sell sensitive defence equipment, two Indian defense sources said.
The first source said that the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) was discussed on Wednesday in a meeting of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet committee on security, just hours before the meeting between the defence and foreign heads of India and the United States.
The source who declining to be named given the sensitivity of the matter said that there would a very positive development in the meeting and it will definitely be reflected in the joint statement.
Another government defence source said there are very high expectations that the agreement would be finally signed on Thursday by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s Defence Minister.
The source added that the agreement has been customised to address Indian concerns, who had been briefed on the matter. It would apply only to equipment that India buys from the United States and would not open up the rest of the Indian military to U.S. communications networks.
A government spokesman was not immediately ready for a comment when asked for.
An Indian defence source had said earlier this year, that New Delhi had shed its opposition to the agreement.
U.S. and Indian officials have been seeking a breakthrough in the talks over the COMCASA in an attempt to expand defence cooperation between the two largest democracies in the world.
Under this agreement, the militaries of the two countries would be able to communicate with each other securely. The United States said the agreement is extremely important to extend defence ties between the countries.
It is important to note that historically India has been opposed to the agreement because it sees it as being too intrusive.
Mattis and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will hold talks with India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Sitharaman on Thursday for the so-called two-plus-two discussions in the capital of India, New Delhi.
Pompeo told reporters on Tuesday, that India is United States’ only major defence partner. He said that they hope they can find some very opportunities to continue to expand the relationship, not just diplomatic or military to military, but also a good set of business relationships between the two countries .