Terming the US-India partnership as the "cornerstone" of a free and open Indo-Pacific, US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin on Monday said that both countries have a unique role in preserving the rules-based international order.
Addressing a press conference after holding wide-ranging talks with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Austin said, "I had productive discussions today with Defence Minister Singh and National Security Advisor Doval. As the world's two largest democracies, India and the United States play a unique role in preserving the rules-based international order that keeps us all secure."
He further said, "Since I last visited India in 2021, our global and strategic partnership has continued to rapidly grow. Today, the US -India partnership is a cornerstone of a free and open Indo-Pacific, and our deepening bonds show how technological innovation and growing military cooperation between two great powers can be a force for global good."
The US Defence Secretary said that India and US have taken new measures to strengthen the defence partnership between two countries. He spoke about the establishment of a new roadmap for defence industrial cooperation between India and the US, which will fast-track high priority co-development and co-production projects.
US Defence Secretary said that Rajnath Singh and he also spoke about Indus X that aims to enable partnerships between the US and India in defence innovation sectors.
"On this visit, I am pleased that we have taken new steps to strengthen our defence partnership. We established an ambitious new roadmap for defence industrial cooperation, which will fast track high priority co-development and co-production projects and build closer ties between our defence industries," Austin said.
"We look forward to advancing some of those projects during the upcoming visit between our leaders later this month. We also discussed an important new initiative, Indus X, that aims to jump start partnerships between the US and Indian defence innovation sectors and we're looking forward to the formal launch of Indus X in conjunction with Prime Minister Modi's state visit to Washington," he said.
Austin stated that during his meeting with Singh, he discussed ways to increase information sharing and new initiatives to improve maritime cooperation. He said that India and US are breaking new ground with pace and scope of joint military exercises.
"We're not only sharing technology together, we are cooperating alongside each other more than ever before. We discussed ways to increase information sharing, as well as new initiatives to improve maritime cooperation, including in the undersea domain," the US Defence Secretary said.
"We also recently celebrated the launch of our first defence space and dialogue and that will help us work more closely together in emerging domains. We're also breaking new ground with the pace and scope of our joint military exercises. In this past April, some of America's most advanced and strategic aircraft, the F35 and B1 bombers participated for the first time in the annual Cope India Air Exercises," he added.
Earlier today, Austin who arrived in Delhi a day ago from Singapore inspected a Tri-Services Guard of Honour in the presence of the Defence Minister at the Manekshaw Centre in the city. This is Austin's second visit to India. Previously, Lloyd Austin visited India in March 2021.
Earlier, the US Defence Secretary in a tweet thanked Rajnath Singh for his "unwavering commitment" to defence ties between India and US.
Austin tweeted, "Great to meet again with my friend @rajnathsingh and thank him for his unwavering commitment to US-India defence relations. His leadership has helped paved the way for deeper collaboration, joint exercises, and technology sharing between our two countries." (ANI)