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Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held talks with his American counter-part Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin this Saturday to discuss strengthening and expanding defence ties between the two countries.

Secretary Austin, who is on a three-day visit to India, stated that his visit was primarily to convey the Biden-Harris administration’s message about the commitment to America’s allies and partners and described the partnership between the two countries as a central pillar of the American policy for the Indo-Pacific.

In his statement, Mr. Singh said that “I am happy to inform you that we had a comprehensive and fruitful discussion with Secretary Austin and his delegation. We are keen to work together to realize the full potential of India US comprehensive global strategic partnership. Our discussions today focus on our wide-ranging defence cooperation and expanding the military to military engagement across services, information sharing, co-operation in emerging sectors of defence and mutual logistics support. We reviewed the wide gamut of bilateral and multilateral exercises and agreed to pursue enhanced co-operation with US Indo Pacific Command, Central Command and the Africa command. Acknowledging that we have in place the foundational agreements LEMOA, COMCASA and BECA, we discussed steps to realize their full potential for mutual benefit” and called on the US defence industry to take advantage of India’s liberalized FDI opportunities in the defence sector. “We both agreed that there are opportunities for collaboration in the defence industry,” he said.

The Secretary of Defence stated that “India in particular is an increasingly important partner among today’s rapidly shifting international dynamics. I reaffirm our commitment to a comprehensive and forward looking defence partnership with India as a central pillar of our approach to the region.” He then emphasised on the need for a free Indo-Pacific region, “Our relationship is a stronghold of free & open Indo-Pacific region. Prime Minister Modi stated that India stands for freedom of navigation & freedom of overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce in adherence to international law. This is a resounding affirmation of our shared vision for regional security in the Indo Pacific,” his statement read.

Austin met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on Friday. Before meeting Singh, he visited the National War Memorial to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony. His three-day visit will end on Sunday.

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