Jaishankar, US Defence Secy Austin discuss shared priorities, regional security challenges

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Washington, May 29 (PTI) External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon during which they discussed shared priorities and exchanged views on a range of regional security challenges, the Department of Defence has said.

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.

“I had a terrific meeting with @DrSJaishankar today. He graciously hosted me in India in March, and I was delighted to return his hospitality. The @deptofdefence is deeply committed to strengthening our partnership with India as we work together to uphold a #FreeAndOpenIndoPacific,” Austin tweeted after the meeting on Friday.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Austin and Jaishankar discussed “shared priorities in the US-India strategic partnership and exchanged views on a range of regional security challenges”.

“Austin and Jaishankar reaffirmed their commitment to sustaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region and strengthening the US-India Major Defence Partnership,” he said in a readout of the meeting.

Kirby said the leaders also discussed opportunities to deepen coordination amid the resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

“Secretary Austin conveyed that he looks forward to hosting Minister Jaishankar and Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue later this year,” the Pentagon press secretary added. PTI LKJ SRY NSA

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