NEW DELHI: India and US could sign a key military logistics agreement as top officials from the two sides meet here in April to look at ways to deepen the bilateral ties in the critical sector.
Defence sources said one of the key area of focus during the visit of US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter to India in April will be three contentious agreements that Washington has been pushing for long. Known as the "foundational agreements", these pacts are - Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA), Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).
"Discussions are on. Logistics agreement, tweaked as per India's interests, is doable and may be signed. However, some more discussions is to be held on BECA," sources said adding that CISMOA needs detailed discussions and clarifications. The sources had earlier said that LSA, which enables cashless supplies to each other's armed forces on credit, is doable as it can be done on "case by case" basis.
"Of course no help will be extended in event of a war with our friendly countries," the sources had said. CISMOA allows interoperability of Indian and US equipment, which can be critical in a multi-nation operation for rescue, disaster relief or any other such matters.
Indian defence establishment has concerns about this agreement as well as the BECA, which facilitates the exchange of geospatial information between governments for military as well as civilian use. The US has been pushing India over these agreements arguing that by not signing them, India is itself blocking potential for defence and high-technology cooperation.
Kenneth Handelman, Deputy Assistant Secretary (Defence Trade Controls) in the State Department, had in February last year said that not signing of these pacts by India "are going to be an issue" at some point as both the countries work on high-end technology.
Even though the previous UPA government had refused to sign these, sources said Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has asked the US to address India's concerns over these agreements for holding further talks, particularly on CISMOA and BECA. During his trip to US in December, Parrikar had indicated to the US that it may reconsider its stand on three contentious defence foundational agreements if its apprehensions about some of the issues in the pacts are addressed by Pentagon.
"The Indian side has expressed certain reservation/ apprehension about some of the issues (with regard to Foundational Agreements)," Parrikar had told reporters at the end of his US trip.