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    US Informs India and Other Partners Following the Downfall of Chinese Spy Balloon

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    The US military recently held a private conversation with the Indian side and other like-minded countries to discuss the matter of a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon being shot down. Gen Kenneth S Wilsbach, commander of the US Pacific Air Forces, revealed that the US held the interaction behind closed doors with most of the air chiefs of the region. The balloon was shot down in February, with the US using fighter jets to bring it down off the coast of South Carolina. This triggered a diplomatic crisis, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelling a scheduled trip to China.

    There were reports of an unidentified object flying in the sky of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands over a year ago, prompting questions about whether the US shared its concerns with India. Gen Wilsbach confirmed that there had been dialogue on the matter, but he was not open to sharing any information about the analysis of the balloon pieces that were obtained after it was shot down.

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    The US military commander emphasised the importance of protecting the sovereignty of airspace across the world, stating that airspace in India is sovereign and should be decided upon by India. He expressed concern about countries that do not agree with this and decide to violate airspace. The violation of airspace is a breach of international law and norms, and should cause concern. The Indo-US defence ties have been on an upswing in recent years, with key defence and security pacts being signed.

    In October 2020, India and the US sealed the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) agreement to further boost bilateral defence ties. The pact provides for sharing of high-end military technology, logistics and geospatial maps between the two countries. The US military commander is currently in India in connection with a mega air exercise between the two countries.

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    Rajesh M
    Rajesh M
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