New Delhi. 20 March 2021. US Secretary of Defence Llyod James Austin III in his first official visit to India met Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

“We had an excellent conversation during which I invited him to visit India at his earliest convenience. His visit to India despite the COVID-19 global pandemic, shows the abiding commitment of the United States to our bilateral relationship.

I am happy to inform that we had a comprehensive and fruitful discussion with Secretary Austin and his delegation. We are keen to work together to realise the full potential of the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership,” informed Rajnath Singh.

The discussions focussed on wide ranging defence cooperation and expanding military-to-military engagement across services, information sharing, cooperation in emerging sectors of defence, and mutual logistics support. The two leaders reviewed the wide gamut of bilateral and multilateral exercises and agreed to pursue enhanced cooperation with the US Indo-Pacific Command, Central Command and Africa Command. Acknowledging that India has in place the foundational agreements, LEMOA, COMCASA and BECA, they discussed steps to be taken to realise their full potential for mutual benefit.

The Minister tweeted post the meeting, “Today we reaffirmed that closer India-US cooperation in partnership with countries keen to uphold rules-based order, can promote security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.”

The recent Leaders’ Summit of India, USA, Japan and Australia under the Quad framework emphasized their resolve to maintain a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. They discussed the need for enhanced capacity building to address some of the non-traditional challenges such as oil spills and environment disasters, drug trafficking, Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) fishing, etc.