The US Secretary of Defense has vowed to improve defense ties with India in the context of China. The decision will affect the balance of power in the region.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has said that his country’s defense relations with India are part of the current US administration’s priorities. According to Austin, in light of the current situation in the Indo-Pacific region and the challenges it poses, the defense ties between the two allies need to be further enhanced.
Pentagon chief Austin did not name a country, but experts said he was referring to China. He made the statement after meeting his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Saturday.
US Secretary of Defense Austin is on a three-day visit to India from March 19 to 21. He is also meeting Foreign Minister SJ Shankar on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, Austin met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Adviser Ajit Pawar at the start of his visit, after which he praised the growing defense ties between New Delhi and Washington. The purpose of his visit is to discuss China’s growing influence in the region and to work out a comprehensive strategy with US allies.
Lloyd Austin arrived in New Delhi yesterday after tours of Japan and South Korea. He also attended the first meeting of a group called the Quad, which includes Australia, Japan, the United States and India. The Quad is considered a group of like-minded countries in opposition to China.
No agreement has been reached on the Pentagon chief’s visit, although there has been talk of boosting defense co-operation.
According to media reports, Austin was given a detailed briefing on military equipment, requirements and technology needed to be able to take immediate military action.
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said the two sides agreed that there were still many opportunities for co-operation.
Relations between the two allies have also improved significantly under former President Donald Trump. India has bought more than 20 billion dollar worth of US arms since 2008. A three-billion-dollar trade deal for 30 armed drones is still under consideration.