Praising India’s leadership role in Indo-Pacific region, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Saturday said that elevating defence partnership between US and India is a priority for US President Joe Biden’s administration adding that the ties between the two nations are "stronghold" of a free and open Indo-Pacific”, reported PTI.
The statements comes after Secretary Austin and his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh engaged in a high-level wide-ranging talks on mutual issues.
Calling India an important partner amid changing international dynamics, Austin said, "Washington is committed to a "forward-looking" defence alliance with New Delhi as a central pillar of its approach to the Indo-Pacific region.
"As the world witness a global pandemic and advancing challenges in establishing open and stable international system, the US-India relationship is a stronghold of a free and open Indo-Pacific region," PTI quotes Austin as saying.
Shedding light on the key topics touched upon by the two representatives, Austin said they discussed military cooperation, information-sharing, logistics cooperation, artificial intelligence; and cooperation in new domains such as space and cyber.
This marks the first face-to-face meeting between New Delhi and Washington after President Joe Biden took over the office in January.
Austin's two-day visit to India, started from Friday, comes at the backdrop of hostile talks between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken with top Chinese officials in Alaska on Thursday, also included conclusive talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval along with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday.
PM Narendra Modi took to Twitter to share his perspective on the US-India talks. "India and US are committed to our strategic partnership that is a force for global good." he tweeted on Saturday
According to Manoj Joshi from India's Observer Research Foundation, Austin's visit to India soon after the power change in US reflects the priority Washington is assigning to India.
"Our relationship with the US on the military side has enhanced enormously and the US has been helping us in our confrontation with China," Joshi told AFP.
However, prior to India, Austin and Blinken visited Japan and South Korea, two other important partners in the Asia-Pacific region where China's growing forceful domination has alarmed its neighbours.