The United States and India signed a new defense pact—the Basic Geospatial Exchange and Cooperation Agreement—while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper visited India. 

“The United States will stand with the people of India as they confront threats to their sovereignty and freedom,” Pompeo said Oct. 27, according to the State Department’s website. 

“The challenge of defeating the pandemic that came from Wuhan also fed our robust discussions about the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” Pompeo added.

“Our leaders and our citizens see more and more clearly that the CCP is no friend of democracy, the rule of law, transparency or freedom of navigation, which are the foundations of a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” he continued.

During the tour that Pompeo and Esper are conducting in India and Indonesia, between Oct. 25 and 30, they will be visiting Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Esper also participated in the meeting, which was attended by Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh.

“Fifteen years after the conclusion of the first U.S.-Indian Defense Framework, the defense ties between our two nations remain a key pillar of our overall bilateral relationship,” said  Esper. 

“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 China’s growing aggression and destabilizing activities,” he reiterated.

Through the pact India has access to topographic, nautical, and aeronautical data vital for the targeting of missiles and armed drones.

In addition, the United States will provide India with advanced navigation and avionic aids on U.S.-supplied aircraft, an Indian defense source said, according to Reuters.  

Pompeo also visited the gravesite of the 20 Indian soldiers killed fighting CCP soldiers in June.

While in Sri Lanka, Pompeo also spoke about the CCP’s predatory policies. 

“We see from the mistreatment, the violations of sovereignty, and the anarchy on land and sea that the Chinese Communist Party is a predator, and the United States comes in a different way, we come as a friend and as a partner,” Pompeo said in Colombo, the capital, according to Taiwan News. 

China has invested billions of dollars in Sri Lanka’s ports, roads, and other infrastructure as part of its Strip and Route Initiative, a program designed to trap smaller countries in debt.