US, India sign new deal on military collaboration, sharing intel

US, India sign new deal on military collaboration, sharing intel
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The United States and India on Thursday signed an agreement for closer intelligence sharing and military collaboration, the State Department announced.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoRosenstein report gives GOP new ammo against DOJ Pompeo rejects ‘good cop, bad cop’ characterization of Russia strategy Pompeo: 'Enormous mistake' for Iran to blame US, allies for attack on military parade MORE and Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump identifies first soldier remains from North Korea | New cyber strategy lets US go on offense | Army chief downplays talk of 'Fort Trump' Pompeo backed continued US support in Yemen war over objections from staff: report Stand with veterans instead of predatory for-profit colleges MORE, who were in New Delhi to meet with their Indian counterparts, signed the “Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement” to allow the sharing of sensitive military intelligence.

Mattis said the agreement will deepen “military-to-military cooperation and our ability to share the most advanced defense technology, making us both stronger,” according to a Pentagon readout of the press conference following the meeting.

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The United States required India to sign the agreement in order to be allowed to buy advanced U.S. military equipment. 

“Today, the steps we took will pave the way ahead for an even closer military relationship,” Mattis said. “Our meeting signified the bright future ahead for our two nations, indicating the growing trust we share as strategic partners.”

Mattis said the two sides also agreed to “increase and expand our engagement in the maritime domain” with a new joint exercise on India’s coast in 2019, and a hotline between the two countries.

The Obama administration designated India as a major defense partner for the United States, and the Trump administration hopes to build upon that with the new agreement as China looms in the region.

Beijing is in the midst of a massive militarization effort that includes island building in the South China Sea, a more powerful navy, military exercises and establishing outposts across the region.

“We know the threats to stability that exist in the region, and the United States seeks to ensure that both of our peoples can live in peace and in freedom,” Pompeo said.

Mattis, meanwhile, said India is a “stabilizing force on the region’s geographic frontlines.”

“Your nation understands better than many: Peace and prosperity are only attainable when all respect the principles of territorial integrity, freedom of navigation and freedom from coercion — all of these are fundamental to the rules-based international order,” Mattis said.

India, one of the biggest U.S. arms buyers, has been at odds with Washington recently over new U.S. sanctions against Iran and Russia, two of its economic and regional partners.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the two sides discussed the U.S. sanctions against Iran, a nation India relies on as an energy supplier.

“They will certainly come up, but I don’t think they’ll be the primary focus of what it is we’re trying to accomplish here,” Pompeo said on the sanctions earlier this week.

India also plans to buy the Russian-made S-400 air defense missile system, putting it at odds with U.S. systems. The country plans to buy five S-400s for nearly $6 billion.

Pompeo told reporters after the meeting that no resolution had been made on the issue.