Prime Minister Narendra Modi met visiting US defence secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday. Lloyd is on a three-day visit to India, the first by a senior minister under Joe Biden’s presidency, to further boost bilateral defence and security ties amid China’s growing military assertiveness in the the Indo-Pacific region.
“Pleasure to meet U.S. @SecDef Lloyd Austin today. Conveyed my best wishes to @POTUS @JoeBiden. India and US are committed to our strategic partnership that is a force for global good,” PM Modi wrote on Twitter.
Austin is on a trip to Asian countries to boost military cooperation with American allies and foster “credible deterrence” against China, he had earlier said. Prior to India, the US defence secretary visited Japan and South Korea. His first trip overseas after taking office to the Indo-Pacific points reflects on the importance the Biden administration is according to the region.
“Prime Minister outlined his vision for the strategic partnership between the two countries and emphasized the important role of bilateral defence cooperation in India-US ties. He requested Secretary Austin to convey his best wishes to President Biden,” Modi’s office said in a statement.
During the meeting, Austin reiterated the US government’s continued commitment towards strengthening the bilateral defence relations between the two countries, the statement added. The US secretary also expressed “US’ strong desire to further enhance the strategic partnership for peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond”.
Soon after landing, Austin tweeted that he was thrilled to be in India. “Thrilled to be here in India. The breadth of cooperation between our two nations reflects the significance of our major defense partnership, as we work together to address the most pressing challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region,” he posted on the microblogging site.
The US official was received at the Palam airport by senior Indian military officials and diplomats from the American embassy.
During Austin’s visit, the two sides will discuss India’s plan to purchase armed drones from the US as well as a large order for over 150 combat jets for the air force and the navy to help narrow the gap with China, news agency PTI reported citing people familiar with the matter.