India is committed to “further consolidating the robust defense partnership” with the US, the Indian defense minister said on Saturday.
“I look forward to working closely to make the India-US relationship one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century,” Rajnath Singh said, while reading out a joint statement following his meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd James Austin.
Austin had arrived in India on a two-day visit.
Singh told media that they had “a comprehensive and fruitful discussion” with the US defense secretary.
“We are keen to work together to realise the full potential of the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership,” he added.
“Our discussions today focused on our 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 Indian minister said.
“We 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, “ he added.
The recent summit of India, USA, Japan and Australia under the Quad framework emphasized to resolve and 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,” Singh said.
Austin, for his part, also reaffirmed commitment to strengthen bilateral defense relations with India
“I want to convey [Joe] Biden-[Kamala] Harris administration’s commitment to our allied and friends. India is a central pillar of the Indo Pacific region.”
“We continue to increase cooperation in multilateral organizations like Quad and ASEAN,” he said.
The US defense secretary had also met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.
Modi outlined his vision for the strategic partnership between the two countries and emphasized the “important role” of bilateral defense cooperation in India-US ties.
By Shuriah Niazi in New Delhi