US Defence Secy Austin to travel to India on March 19

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WASHINGTON (Jan. 23, 2021) Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III poses for his official portrait in the Army portrait studio at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., Jan 23, 2020.(U.S. Army photo by Spc. XaViera Masline)

Washington: US Defence Secretary Lloyd J Austin III will visit India later this month to meet with his counterpart Rajnath Singh and other senior Indian national security leaders and will discuss “deepening” major defence partnership between the two nations, Pentagon announced on Wednesday.

It will be the first in-person visit by an official of the Biden administration to India. Secretary Austin will visit India from March 19-21, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement. The Indian defence ministry said that Secretary Austin’s visit to India as part of his first overseas travel emphasizes the strength of the India-US strategic partnership.
In a statement, Pentagon announced Austin III will embark on his first overseas trip on March 13 to Hawaii, India, Japan and South Korea.

“Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III embarks on his first overseas trip Saturday, March 13, to visit US Indo-Pacific Command Headquarters in Hawaii, US troops and senior government leaders in Japan and the Republic of Korea, and senior government leaders in India,” the statement read.

In India, the Pentagon said that Secretary Austin will meet with his counterpart Singh, and other senior national security leaders to discuss deepening the U.S.-India Major Defense Partnership and advancing cooperation between our countries for a free, prosperous and open Indo-Pacific and Western Indian Ocean Region.

Taking to Twiter, Austin said: ” I’ll then travel to India to meet with my counterpart, Minister of Defense @RajnathSingh, and other senior national security leaders to discuss deepening the US-India Major Defense Partnership and advancing cooperation between our countries.”

Replying to Austin’s tweet, Rajnath Singh said he looks forward to the US Defence Secretary visit.

In a statement, the Indian Defence Ministry said that both sides are expected to discuss ways to further strengthen bilateral defence cooperation and exchange views on “regional security challenges and common interests in maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. Discussions regarding defence cooperation would also focus on how both countries could consolidate military-to-military cooperation and defence trade and industry cooperation”.

During his overseas trip, Secretary Austin will also visit US Indo-Pacific Command Headquarters in Hawaii to meet with US troops and senior commanders and highlight his vision for the Indo-Pacific region as a priority theatre for the Department.

In Japan, Austin will join US Department of State Secretary Antony Blinken, for the US-Japan Security Consultative Committee (“2+2”), hosted by Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi and Minister of Defense Nobuo Kishi, to emphasize that the U.S.-Japan Alliance has never been more resolute and resilient – the cornerstone of peace and security in a free and open Indo-Pacific in the face of long-term competition with China.
In the Republic of Korea, Austin and Blinken will attend a U.S.-South Korea Foreign and Defense Ministerial (“2+2”), hosted by South Korea’s Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and Minister of Defense Suh Wook, to reaffirm the United States’ ironclad commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea, and emphasize that the U.S. South alliance remains a linchpin of peace, security, and prosperity in Northeast Asia, a free and open Indo-Pacific, and around the world, according to the statement. (ANI)

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