NEW DELHI (AP) — Top defense officers from India and the United States pledged Saturday to expand their military engagement, underscoring the strengthening defense ties between two international locations involved over China’s rising affect within the Indo-Pacific area.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh met in New Delhi and agreed to deepen defense cooperation, intelligence sharing and logistics.
“India is an increasingly important partner in rapidly shifting international dynamics. I reaffirm our commitment to a comprehensive forward-looking defense partnership with India as a central pillar of our approach to the Indo-Pacific region,” Austin stated.
Austin is making the primary go to to India by a high member of President Joe Biden’s administration. His go to follows a gathering final week between leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the United States, which collectively make up the 4 Indo-Pacific nations often called the Quad.
The Quad is seen as a counterweight to China, who critics say is flexing its military muscle within the South China Sea, East China Sea, Taiwan Strait and alongside its northern border with India.
China has referred to as the Quad an try to comprise its ambitions.
Austin’s Indian counterpart, Singh, stated the talks have been centered on “expanding military-to-military engagement.”
“We are determined to realize the full potential of comprehensive global strategic partnership,” Singh stated.
Austin arrived in New Delhi on Friday and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
According to a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office, Modi “outlined his vision for the strategic partnership between the two countries and emphasized the important role of bilateral defense cooperation in India-U.S. ties.”
Before the talks on Saturday, Austin visited the National War Memorial and was accorded a ceremonial guard of honor.
The timing of Austin’s go to, which follows talks between high-ranking U.S. and Chinese officers in Alaska amid a bitter exchange of words, alerts the significance Biden locations on New Delhi as a safety ally.
The U.S. and India have steadily ramped up their military relationship in recent times and signed a string of defense offers and deepened military cooperation. In 2019, the 2 sides concluded defense offers price over $3 billion. Bilateral defense commerce elevated from close to zero in 2008 to $15 billion in 2019.
The U.S.-India safety partnership enjoys sturdy bipartisan help in Washington, and it has grown considerably because the early 2000s though commerce agreements have been a sticking level. But in recent times, relations between the international locations have been pushed by a convergence of pursuits to counter China.
More not too long ago, India drew nearer to the U.S. following its months-long military standoff with China alongside their disputed border in japanese Ladakh, the place lethal clashes erupted final 12 months. Tensions between the nuclear-armed Asian giants have eased after the 2 international locations pulled again troops from one space of competition.
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