His departure comes after former Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis stepped down in December.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is currently on a five-day maiden trip to the US.
"There's no doubt in my mind that China wants to return to what it believes is its rightful place in the world as a great nation,” he said.
"The prime minister fondly recalled his interactions with President Trump and requested the secretaries to convey his greetings to him," a brief statement from the Prime Minister's Office said.
"We took the step to suspend several of the largest military exercises as a good faith measure. We have no plans to suspend anymore", said Mattis.
Mattis, who is the first Pentagon chief to visit China since 2014, met with Xi as part of a three-day visit to the Chinese capital, following talks with his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe.
The visit marks the first of a US Defence Secretary to China since 2014 and comes just a week after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
Mattis met the prime minister on the sidelines of the International Institute for Strategic Studies' 17th Asia Security Summit -- also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue -- in Singapore on Saturday.
The South China Sea, a key trade route, is subject to overlapping claims by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei. Tensions increased in recent years and China has backed its claim with island-building and patrols.
The meeting was held on the sidelines of the annual Shangri-La Dialogue which was addressed by the Prime Minister on Friday.
The visit by the Pentagon chief comes at a time when the Afghan government is actively looking to broker peace talks with the Taliban.
"We want to make certain that no terrorist organisation can find a haven anywhere, and, with a border adjoining Afghanistan, that makes Pakistan a priority," Mattis said.
China was responding to Jim Mattis that the Belt and Road Initiative goes through disputed territory and shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate.
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has said that President Donald Trump is prepared to take "whatever steps necessary" against Pakistan if it does not "change its behaviour".
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has said that Pakistan can have strong economic benefits from India if it realises that the "tide has shifted" and stop providing safe havens to terrorists.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis, after meeting with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, said there can be no tolerance of terrorist safe havens.
James Mattis appreciated India's effort along with the international community to increase pressure against North Korea over "its dangerous and destabilising behaviour".
Nirmala Sitharaman discussed the issue of terror safe havens in Pakistan in meeting with her US counterpart James Mattis.
US Defence Secretary James Mattis, who arrived in New Delhi late Monday for a two-day visit to India, will today meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman