Amidst the on going border tensions with China and the US presidential election being overhead, the latest 3rd round of India US 2+2 dialogue which is expected to be held on October 26-27 is of great significance and concrete outcomes are expected.
Currently all what US President Donald Trump see is his re-election. The latest achievements during any election campaign always plays very significant role in increasing the probability of re-election for the incumbent. The latest US brokered Israel-UAE-Bahrain peace deal has strongly benefited President Trump as Jewish voters hold prominent place in US politics.
Unlike Indian voters, foreign policy is one of the core basis of voting decision for the US Voters. That’s why the USA is very keen on signing Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial cooperation (BECA) with India. India and USA has already signed three out of four foundational agreements i.e. the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) and the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in past.
Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar had very recently meet with his US counterpart Mike Pompeo at Tokyo on October 6 during the Quad ministerial meeting. Thus along with the strong outcome from the Quad Meeting the probability of signing BECA has got more stronger. This will also include the meet betweet US defence secretary Mark Esper and Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh. Both the American delegates are also expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and NSA Ajit Doval. Looking the current geopolitical consideration, there is much on table for India to bargain with USA.
Singing of BECA will facilitate India the use the US’ global geospatial maps, which are of great strategic importance for cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and also for armed and unarmed UAVs. It will provide precise location for attack and will also be helpful in espionage purposes.
The date for this event also holds weightage as on the same date a four day Chinese Communist Party plenary has been scheduled in Beijing, in which 370 members of Central Committee will interact with the Chinese head of the state Xi Jinping to review policies and discussions on the next five-year plan. During this the signing of India-US agreements will also have its ramifications in China. This will also provide the anti-Xi Faction of CCP to target Xi Jinping.
Indeed the discussion on Afghanistan Peace Process will also be on the table. Trump administration is adamant on the withdrawal of its troop from Afghanistan and is eyeing on India to fill in that envisaged void which will the aftermath of US withdrawal. With Taliban being the party to peace talks India has always maintained a safe distance with Taliban during their recent talks with India at Doha. A full-fledged dialogue with Taliban will be contractictory to the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) which is proposed by India at UNGA since 1996 and it will also be in contradiction to India’s stand on Afghan peace process which must be led, owned and controlled by Afghan i.e. the democratically elected govt.
Sec. Mike Pompeo is also expected to visit Sri Lanka on 27th October directly from New Delhi. At Sri Lanka is likely to to have negotiations on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and Acquisition and Cross-servicing agreement (ACSA). Increasing US presence in Sri Lanka will be of good counter to China. India might discuss this issue too with USA during 2+2 Dialogue.
With high hopes there is lot on table for India and US to benefit each other taking the benefit of the current strategic scenario and gains for India could be even more depending upon the negotiations. Certainly it would a take India-US relations much closer than ever before.