US Defence Secretary to travel to India next week

The US Secretary of Defence, Lloyd J. Austin III, will arrive on an official visit to India starting next week.

He will travel to New Delhi on an official visit to India as part of his four-nation tour. This visit holds particular significance, especially considering Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming state visit to the White House next month.

The Pentagon announced that Austin’s first stop will be in Tokyo, where he will meet with Japanese Defence Minister Yasukasu Hamada and other senior leaders and visit US troops stationed in Japan. Later, from Japan, he will fly to Singapore, where he is scheduled to address plenary remarks at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) 20th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. During his stay in Singapore, he will also hold key bilateral meetings to advance US partnerships across the region.

Following his visit to Singapore, Austin will travel next to New Delhi, on the third leg of his tour, which will prominently focus on advancing India-US new defence innovation and industrial cooperation initiatives and continuing with the efforts to expand operational cooperation between the U.S. and Indian militaries.

Elaborating on the details of the Defence Secretary’s visit, the Pentagon said in a statement, “After Singapore, Secretary Austin will visit New Delhi to meet with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and other leaders as the United States and India continue to modernize the U.S.-India Major Defence Partnership.”

“This visit provides an opportunity to accelerate new defence innovation and industrial cooperation initiatives and drive ongoing efforts to expand operational cooperation between the U.S. and Indian militaries,” the statement added.

Pertinently, this will be the US Defence Secretary’s second visit to India and his seventh visit to the Indo-Pacific since taking charge in January 2021.

Meanwhile, speaking ahead of his four-nation tour, the Defence Secretary said, “I look forward to travelling to Japan, Singapore, India and France next week. We’ve made groundbreaking progress over the past year alongside our allies and partners towards advancing our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Functioning as one of the central pillars of the India-US approach, defence cooperation has witnessed a remarkable rise in the past two decades. Pertinently, the elevation of the US-India defence relationship to a “Major Defence Partnership” in 2016 played a major role in paving the way for bilateral defence cooperation between the world’s oldest and largest democracies on a new trajectory.

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