India, US discuss expanding military to military engagement

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Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin sit to deliver a joint press statement in New Delhi. Photo: AP

New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin held delegation-level talks at Vigyan Bhawan on Saturday. During the talks, the two leaders discussed expanding the military to military engagement, information sharing and cooperation in the emerging areas of defence and mutual logistics support.

Defence Minister Singh said that his American counterpart’s three-day visit to India during the coronavirus pandemic “shows the abiding commitment” of the United States to the bilateral ties that exist between the two countries.

“I am happy to inform you that we have had a very pleasant and rewarding meeting with Secretary Austin and his delegation. We are determined to work together to realize the full potential of the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership,” Singh said during the joint statement post the meeting.

“Our discussions today focussed 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,” he added.

The Defence Minister said that they also reviewed many bilateral and multilateral exercises and agreed for increased cooperation between the Indian military, US Indo-Pacific command, Centre Command and the Africa Command.

“Acknowledging that we have in place the foundational agreements — LEMOA, COMCASA and BECA — we discussed steps to be taken to realise their full potential for mutual benefit,” he said.

Singh stated that he conveyed his appreciation to Secretary Austin for the participation of US industry in Aero India.

“I conveyed my appreciation to Secretary Austin for the participation of US industry in Aero India 2021. I invited the US industry to take advantage of India’s liberalized foreign direct investment (FDI) policies in the defence sector. We both agreed that there are opportunities for collaboration in the defence industry,” he said.

Chief of Defense Staff General Bipin Rawat and the three Services Chiefs were also present at the meeting.