Austin speaks to Rajnath; pledges to work collaboratively to sustain progress in Indo-US ties

Lalit K Jha
·2-min read

Washington, Jan 27 (PTI) US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday spoke with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh during which he pledged to work collaboratively with him to sustain progress in the bilateral defence relationship, the Pentagon said.

'During the call, Secretary Austin emphasised the Department's commitment to the US-India Major Defence Partnership, observing that it is built upon shared values and a common interest in ensuring the Indo-Pacific region remains free and open,' Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said.

In June 2016, the US had designated India a 'Major Defence Partner” intending to elevate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.

'Secretary Austin noted the great strides made in the US-India defence relationship, and he pledged to work collaboratively with the Defense Minister to sustain progress,” Kirby said in a readout of the call.

This was Austin’s first call with his Indian counterpart after assuming the office.

The Indo-US defence ties have been on an upswing in the last few years.

The two countries have inked key defence and security pacts over the past few years, including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that allows their militaries use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies as well as provides for deeper cooperation.

The two sides have also signed COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 that provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for sale of high end technology from the US to India.

After becoming the defence secretary, Austin so far has spoken over the phone with six foreign leaders, the first one was with the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. His other calls have been with his counterparts from the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea and Australia. PTI LKJ ZH ZH