US Defence Secretary commends India's leadership role in Indo-Pacific region

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Washington, Mar 19 (PTI) US Defence Secretary Lloyd J Austin on Friday commended India's leadership role in the Indo-Pacific and growing engagement with like-minded partners across the strategically important region to promote shared goals.

Austin arrived in India here as part of his three-nation first overseas tour as the Defence Secretary. His visit to India is seen as a reflection of the Biden administration's strong commitment to ties with its close allies and partners in the region. Austin visited Japan and South Korea before arriving in New Delhi.

On Friday, Austin called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and met National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

'Secretary Austin commended India’s leadership role in the Indo-Pacific and growing engagement with like-minded partners across the region to promote shared goals,' according to a readout by the US department of defence.

'The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to promote a free and open regional order. Both sides exchanged perspectives on shared challenges confronting the region and committed to further strengthen their broad ranging and robust defence cooperation,' the readout added.

Welcoming Austin, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said his visit to India is definitely going to further deepen the cooperation and partnership between two countries. Austin and Singh are scheduled to hold bilateral talks on Saturday.

Austin's visit to India came days after the top leadership of the Quad grouping of the US, India, Japan and Australia vowed to expand their cooperation in the Indo-Pacific amidst China's aggressive actions in the region.

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