Jaishankar discusses Indo-US strategic and defence partnership with Defence Secretary Austin

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Washington, May 28 (PTI) External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday had a 'warm meeting' with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin here during which they discussed further developing strategic and defence partnership between the two countries and exchanged views on 'contemporary security challenges'.

Jaishankar, who is on an official trip to the US, is the first Indian Cabinet minister to visit the country since Joe Biden became US President on January 20.

'A warm meeting with US @SecDef Lloyd Austin. A comprehensive conversation about further developing our strategic and defence partnership,' Jaishankar tweeted after the meeting, sharing a photograph of them together.

He further said they exchanged views on 'contemporary security challenges'.

The two leaders are expected to have discussed the situation in the strategic Indo-Pacific region where China has been increasingly flexing its military muscles.

Both India and the US have been advocating for a rules-based international order and a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.

The Quad grouping of the US, India, Japan and Australia have already vowed to expand their cooperation in the Indo-Pacific amidst China's aggressive actions in the region.

The US has been favouring Quad as a security architecture to check China's growing assertiveness.

Jaishankar also expressed appreciation of the US military role in responding to the COVID-19 situation in India.

The US military has been transporting essential medical equipment and supplies to India to help the country combat the second surge of COVID-19 cases.

In the months of April and May, three US military planes have ferried assistance in the form of elements to manufacture vaccines, personal protective equipment, rapid diagnostic kits, oxygen cylinders and regulators, and tranches of anti-viral remdesivir to India. PTI SCY/LKJ AKJ SCY

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