New Delhi [India], June 5 (ANI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday held wide-ranging talks with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin.
The talks focussed on enhancing India-US defence cooperation in several areas including convergence of strategic interests and enhanced cooperation between the two countries, the defence minister said.
According to Rajnath Singh the partnership between India and US is "critical" for ensuring a "free, open and rules-bound Indo-Pacific region."Singh took to Twitter to post, "Delighted to meet my friend, @SecDef Austin in New Delhi. Our talks revolved around enhancing defence cooperation in several areas including convergence of strategic interests and enhanced security cooperation"In another tweet, the defence minister stated, "India-US partnership is critical for ensuring a free, open and rules-bound Indo-Pacific region. We look forward to closely work with the US across the domains for capacity building and further consolidating our strategic partnership."Earlier today, the US Defence Secretary, who arrived in India on Sunday on a two day visit inspected the Tri-Services Guard of Honour in the presence of Defence Minister at the Manekshaw Centre in Delhi. This is the Austin's second visit to India. Previously, Lloyd Austin visited India in March 2021.
Upon his arrival here from Singapore, the US Secretary of Defence tweeted, "I'm returning to India to meet with key leaders for discussions about strengthening our Major Defense Partnership. Together, we're advancing a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific."The US Defence Secretary's visit holds particular significance considering Prime Minister Narendra Modi's upcoming state visit to the US scheduled in June.
While elaborating on the details of the US Defence Secretary's visit to India, the Pentagon said, "After Singapore, Secretary Austin will visit New Delhi to meet with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and other leaders as the United States and India continue to modernize the US-India Major Defence Partnership."It said, "This visit provides an opportunity to accelerate new defence innovation and industrial cooperation initiatives and drive ongoing efforts to expand operational cooperation between the US and Indian militaries."Over the past few years, India and US have signed key defence and security pacts, including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016.
LEMOA provides a framework for reciprocal provision of logistic support, supplies and services for activities such as joint exercises, training or humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, according to Ministry of Defence's press release. The agreement does not provide for the establishment of any bases or basing arrangements.
The two nations also signed COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018. The agreement facilitates access to advanced defense systems and enable India to optimally utilize its existing U.S.-origin platforms, according to Ministry of Defence's press release. In 2020, India and the US signed the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) agreement to further boost bilateral defence ties. (ANI)