Defence Minister Rajnath Singh meets US counterpart to expand India, US strategic co-operation

New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held talks with visiting US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday (March 20, 2021) agreeing to pursue enhanced cooperation between the militaries of India, the US Indo-Pacific Command, Central Command and Africa Command.

Further, the two nations resolved to expand their global defence and security cooperation including military-to-military engagement, information sharing, logistics support as both sides vowed to work for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, the press note released by the PIB mentioned.

“I am happy to inform that I 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,” the statement quoted Singh as saying.

He said both sides discussed steps to realise the full potential of the LEMOA (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement), COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) and BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) pacts.

Singh also said the recent summit of leaders of India, the US, Japan and Australia under the Quad framework emphasised the resolve to maintain a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.

Meanwhile, Secretary Austin reaffirmed US commitment to a comprehensive and forward-looking defence partnership with India as a “central pillar” of its approach to the region. He called the India-US relationship as a “stronghold” of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

“Singh and I had a very productive discussion…I wanted to convey the Biden-Harris administration’s message about our strong commitment to our allies and partners,” he said.

Austin is on his first three-nation overseas tour as the US Defence Secretary of the recently elected Joe Biden administration. He arrived in New Delhi on Friday and called India is an increasingly important partner in today’s rapidly changing international dynamics.

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