No discussion of human rights in India with US Defence Secretary: Sources

ANI
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United States Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar
United States Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar

New Delhi [India], March 21 (ANI): The issue of human rights in India did not figure in the talks with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin here, according to High-level Indian sources.

According to the sources, human rights and values were mentioned as shared attributes and the only mention of minorities was by EAM Jaishankar in the context of Afghanistan.

This comes after some media reports which said that EAM Jaishankar and Defence Secretary Austin, apart from geostrategic affairs, and discussed the issue of Human Rights.

This issue assumes importance in the backdrop of the Freedom House report which has downgraded India and called it "partly free". India discarded the report as inaccurate and distorted. Freedom House is a US-based global watchdog that is also funded by the US government.

According to sources, "Discussions marginally focused on the strategic situation in the Indo-Pacific. The US side briefed about recent visits in East Asia. EAM spoke about India's current security challenges and our long-term strategic outlook. The conversation also covered changing global scenario, including Europe and West Asia."

Austin, who is on a three-day official visit to India, met Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday and had delegation-level talks at Vigyan Bhawan.

The discussions focused on wide-ranging defence cooperation and expanding military-to-military engagement across services, information sharing, cooperation in emerging sectors of defence, and mutual logistics support.

Defence Minister Singh said that Austin's three-day visit to India during the coronavirus pandemic "shows the abiding commitment" of the US to the bilateral ties.

Austin arrived here on Friday and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. (ANI)