During a morning meeting today between Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and US Secretary of Defense General Lloyd Austin, the two countries concentrated on extending their military engagement, according to a joint statement released today. According to the statement, the talks covered a wide range of defence cooperation, sharing information in emerging areas, and mutual logistical support.
“We focused on expanding military to military engagement…” Mr Singh said reading out the statement, and expressing happiness over the “comprehensive and fruitful talks” with Secretary Austin and his delegation. “We’re determined to realise the full potential of comprehensive global strategic partnership,” he said. He went on to say that the US defence industry had been asked to take advantage of India’s liberalised FDI policies in the sector.
Mr Austin started by expressing his condolences for the demise of Group Captain Ashish Gupta of the Indian Air Force previously in the week. In a combat training mission, his helicopter, a Mig-21 Bison, crashed near Gwalior, killing him. “His death reminds us of the risks our brave service men and women take each day to defend our democracies, our people, and our way of life,” Mr Austin said.
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He said that he had relayed the Biden-Harris administration’s statement of the US’ strong commitment to “our allies and partners” to Mr Singh. “We discussed opportunities to elevate the US-India Major Defence Partnership…a priority of the Biden-Harris Administration…through regional security cooperation, military-to-military interactions, and defence trade,” he said.
Mr Austin’s three-nation tour, the first since Joe Biden administration took office earlier 2021, includes India as the third stop. This is seen as a consequence of the regime’s robust commitment to relations with regional allies and partners. After arriving in Delhi on Friday, the US Defense Secretary met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and spoke with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
Senator Robert Menendez, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, urged Ms. Austin to raise concerns about India’s democracy during his meetings with officials here a few days ago, prompting today’s joint release of statement.
Senator Menendez wrote to Mr Austin, stating that while the US-India partnership is “essential to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century,” it “must rest on adherence to democratic values.” “The Indian government has been trending away from those ideals,” he added.
In the meantime, the Indian Defence Minister and the US Secretary of Defense reviewed a number of multilateral and bilateral exercises today, committing to strengthen cooperation between the Indian military and the US Indo-Pacific, Central, and Africa Commands.
The negotiations focused on actions to enforce bilateral defence pacts like the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement, and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement(BECA), according to the joint declaration.