Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said that talks with visiting US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin "were very comprehensive and fruitful". In a joint statement issued here after the meeting, Singh said that the talks focused on military-to-military engagement, information sharing and logistics support among others issues. He said that they determined to realise full potential of India-US global strategic partnership.
"We reviewed bilateral and multilateral exercises," Rajnath Singh said, adding that they agreed to expand cooperation between Indian military and US Indo-Pacific Command, Central Command & Africa Command. Singh added that talks also focused on steps to implement bilateral defence pacts with the US such as LEMOA (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement), COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) and BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement).
"I am happy to inform that I had a comprehensive and fruitful discussion with Secretary Austin and his delegation. We are keen to work together to realise the full potential of the India-US comprehensive global strategic partnership," Singh said in his statement to the media.
"India is committed to further strengthen its robust defence partnership with the US," he said. "We hope to make Indo-US relationship as one of the defining partnerships of 21st century."
Singh also said the recent summit of leaders of India, the US, Japan and Australia under the Quad framework emphasised the resolve to maintain a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. The Indian Defence Minister also invited the US defence industry to take advantage of India's liberalised FDI policies in defence sector.
In his comments, Secretary Austin said that India is an increasingly important partner in today's rapidly changing international dynamics. He reaffirmed the commitment by the US to a comprehensive and forward-looking defence partnership with India as a "central pillar" of its approach to the region. He also described the India-US relationship as a "stronghold" of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
"Singh and I had a very productive discussion...I wanted to convey the Biden-Harris administration's message about our strong commitment to our allies and partners," Austin, who arrived here on Friday as part of his three-nation first overseas tour, said.