US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin to visit India from March 19 to 21

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New Delhi, Mar 10 (PTI) US Defence Secretary Gen Lloyd J Austin will visit India from March 19 to 21 during which both sides are expected to focus on common interests in maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, the defence ministry said on Wednesday.

It said Austin's visit to India as part of his first overseas travel emphasises the strength of India-US strategic partnership.

'Secretary of Defence of the United States of America General Lloyd J Austin will visit India from March 19 to 21,' the ministry said.

In Delhi, Secretary Austin will hold extensive talks with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and other senior dignitaries.

'Both sides are expected to discuss ways to further strengthen bilateral defence cooperation and exchange views on regional security challenges and common interests in maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region,' the ministry said.

'Discussions regarding defence cooperation would also focus on how both countries could consolidate military-to-military cooperation and defence trade and industry cooperation,' it said.

It will be the first visit by a top US official after the Joe Biden administration took charge. PTI MPB ZMN