Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said India has reaffirmed its resolve to maintain a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, following his meeting with the United States Secretary of Defense General Lloyd Austin on Saturday in New Delhi.
Giving out details regarding the meeting, Rajnath Singh, in his statement, said a wide range of issues were discussed with a focus on “expanding military engagement, enhancing defence information sharing, cooperation in emerging domains of defence, and mutual logistics support.”
“We are keen to work together to realise the full potential of the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership. We agreed to pursue enhanced cooperation with the US Indo-Pacific Command, Central Command and Africa Command. Acknowledging that we have in place the foundational agreements, LEMOA, COMCASA and BECA, we discussed steps to be taken to realise their full potential for mutual benefit,” Rajnath Singh added.
Singh further added that he had invited the US defence industry to take advantage of India’s liberalised foreign direct investment (FDI) policies in the sector and informed that both of them were in agreement that there are opportunities for collaboration in defence industry.
While speaking about the QUAD, Indian Defence Minister said, “The recent Leaders’ Summit of India, USA, Japan and Australia under the Quad framework emphasized our resolve to maintain a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. We 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.”
On his part, the US Defense Secretary General Austin said said India is an important ally and the Joe Biden administration is strongly committed to their partners in the region.
“India, in particular, is an increasingly important partner amid today’s rapidly shifting international dynamics. And I reaffirmed our commitment to a comprehensive and forward-looking defence partnership with India as a central pillar of our approach to the region. As the world faces a global pandemic and growing challenges to an open and stable international system, the US-India relationship is a stronghold of a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” Austin said.
“India stands for freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, and adherence to international law. This is a resounding affirmation of our shared vision for regional security in the Indo-Pacific. And it’s clear that the importance of this partnership, and its impact to the international rules-based order will only grow in the years ahead. Our work today is grounded in our shared values and converging strategic interests. We discussed opportunities to elevate the US-India Major Defense Partnership, which is a priority of the Biden-Harris administration. In addition, we are continuing to advance new areas of collaboration, including information-sharing, logistics cooperation, artificial intelligence, and cooperation in new domains such as space and cyber sectors,” he added.
The visiting US Defense Secretary met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his arrival in New Delhi on Friday and held talks with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. On Saturday, he held delegation-level talks with his Indian counterpart Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. He leaves on Sunday.