India and the United States are likely to sign the Maritime Information Sharing Technical Arrangement (MISTA) during the 2+2 meeting on 26-27 October

New Delhi: The signing of MISTA, which will make information and importantly, intelligence sharing much easier, could be the centrepiece of the meeting this year. This would be particularly so, as the name suggests, with naval intelligence. India, at least, is ready to sign the agreement: a decision has already been taken by the government.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the US Secretary of Defence, Mark Esper, will be flying to Delhi this year. The meeting, interestingly, is just before the US Presidential elections on November 3. They will be meeting with their Indian counterparts, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

There was some initial discussion about having a virtual 2+2, but now it appears that unless there's a crisis of some sort, including one that is Covid-19 related, both US leaders will be here.

There is an effort to go ahead with BECA or the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement about the sharing of geospatial information, but it is not certain that the internal discussions in India, most certainly and perhaps, in the United States will be completed by then.

The two countries had signed the Industrial Security Annex during an earlier 2+2 meeting. The regional situation will certainly be discussed. The Americans have been making statements about the situation in East Ladakh and the meeting itself would be something Beijing would notice. A discussion on cross border terrorism is likely.

Shortly after the meeting, India, the United States, Japan and most probably, Australia, will join hands for the Malabar naval exercise. That is likely at the end of November in the Indian Ocean.