Shailesh Kumar, National Defence
New Delhi, 20 September 2017
US Secretary of Defence, Jim Mattis, will call on his Indian counterpart Minister of Defence, Nirmala Sitharaman, on 26 September in New Delhi. This will be first high profile meeting after Nirmala Sitharaman took over as Defence Minister on 07th September. The meeting will be followed by a wreath laying ceremony at Amar Jawan Jyoti and Guard of Honor to the visiting US Secretary, DoD, a Defence Ministry source informed National Defence. James Norman ‘Jim’ Mattis is on a three day visit to India from 26th September to 28 September.
Both the leaders are expected to discuss issues concerning both the nations like terrorism, Af-Pak situation, assertive and aggressive China post Doklam. In August last year both countries have signed military pact LEMOA (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement). Indian decision is still pending regarding signing of Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for Geospatial Intelligence.
It is stated US policy to share critical defence technology under DTTI (Defence Technology And Trade Initiative) only with countries who have signed these pacts. However, there is no consensus in India regarding signing of these agreements as many believe they compromise Indian military’s independence and sovereignty to an extend. However, both countries moved forward and come closer in last fifteen years when they first signed the General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002 and LEMOA in 2016.
The visit of US Secretary of Defence is all the more interesting because it is seen as a measurement of the continuation of US policies from the Obama administration time (Ashton Carter) to Trump Government (Jim Mattis). According to sources, visiting Secretary of Defence will also meet National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Prime Minister Narendra Modi the same day.