New Delhi: US Secretary of Defense, General Lloyd J Austin, is scheduled to visit India from March 19 to March 21 to further strengthen bilateral defense cooperation. It will be the first high-level visit by someone from the US after Joe Biden took over as the President on January 20.
During his visit, Austin is expected to meet Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and other senior dignitaries in the government. The visit will take place a week after the first ever Indo-Pacific Quad summit on March 12, which will be attended virtually by the heads of states of India, the US, Australia and Japan.
The US Defense Secretary will also visit Japan and South Korea.
“Both sides are expected to discuss ways to further strengthen bilateral defense cooperation and exchange views on regional security challenges and common interests in maintaining a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Discussions regarding defense cooperation would also focus on how both countries could consolidate military-to-military cooperation and defense trade and industry cooperation.
Austin’s visit to India as part of his first overseas travel emphasizes the strength of India-US strategic partnership.
India has inked defense deals worth $18 billion with the US since 2007. In the near future, a deal worth $3 billion for 30 armed drones from the US to be used by all the three forces is likely to be signed.
During the Aero India show in Bengaluru last month, US Defense Attaché in India, Rear Admiral Eileen Laubacher, had stated that the US is looking forward to enhancing bilateral relations with India and also to work together to tackle evolving space threats.