İrem UZUN -TDO- A week before the U.S. presidential election, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed a military agreement Tuesday in India before heading to Sri Lanka on a multi-country tour aimed at pushing the Trump administration's anti-China message.
During a press conference Tuesday in the Indian capital, Esper and his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh announced the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), enabling greater information-sharing and further defense cooperation between the two countries. "The defense ties between our two nations remains a key pillar of our overall bilateral relationship," Esper said. "Based on our shared values and common interests, we stand shoulder to shoulder in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific for all, particularly in light of increasing aggression and destabilizing activities by China."
Both India and the U.S. are due to participate in the upcoming Malabar naval exercises which will be held in the Indian Ocean next month. The drills will feature all members of the so-called Quad, an informal alliance of the U.S., India, Japan and Australia, which has been proposed by some as a potential "Asian NATO," intended to counterbalance Chinese military strength in the region.