Days after US President Donald Trump's maiden India visit; New Delhi and Washington have started working on the draft of BECA, the third foundational agreements between the two countries

New Delhi: India and the United States have begun work on the draft paper of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), the third of the "foundational" pacts that aims to bring the armed forces of the two countries closer. Work on the drafts has just begun after a successful meeting on BECA in Washington DC on 2-3 March. After several rounds of discussions led by the Indian ministry of defence and the U.S. National Geospatial Agency, it was decided to begin work on the draft. Indian and U.S. armed forces officials were part of the meeting. 

BECA is the third of the agreements, India already having signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA). Both sides are confident that the agreement could be signed by the end of the year. In fact, both sides are working towards signing the agreement with the Trump administration before the November US Presidential polls. BECA would lead to sharing information relating to various kind of data, whether it is imagery, hydrological, topographical or other kinds of data. 

The meeting in Washington DC was considered successful and the BECA agreement is seen as easier to achieve that COMCASA, which is about communications interoperability. It came right after the Trump visit to India. During the visit, the US President announced the sale of 3 billion US dollars worth of naval helicopters, Apache attack choppers and a protection system for the Prime Minister's plane.

The BECA agreement could also come up for discussions when the US defence secretary, Mark Esper, arrives on March 17. But no new defence deals are likely to be announced during the visit.