In the first high-level engagement between India and US since Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of US last week, the new Biden administration reached out to India on Wednesday to boost bilateral ties.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to new US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest. Singh said the firm commitment to deepen India-US defence cooperation was reiterated during the talks.
"Spoke with my US counterpart, Secretary Def Austin and conveyed my warm wishes on his appointment," Singh tweeted.
"We reiterated our firm commitment to deepen India-US defence cooperation. We exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest to strengthen our strategic partnership," he further said.
Spoke with my US counterpart, @SecDef Austin & conveyed my warm wishes on his appointment.— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) January 27, 2021
We reiterated our firm commitment to deepen India-US defence cooperation. We exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest to strengthen our strategic partnership.
It is not immediately known whether the eastern Ladakh standoff between India and China figured in the talks.
Later during the day, the National Security Adviser Ajit Doval held a telephonic talk with his American counterpart Jake Sullivan during which he underlined that India and the US were uniquely positioned to work closely on regional and global issues, including combating the scourge of terrorism and ensuring peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the two NSAs agreed to work closely to further advance India-US relations which are built on shared values and common strategic and security interests.
"National Security Adviser Ajit Doval had a telephone call with his US counterpart Jake Sullivan on January 27. NSA Doval conveyed his best wishes to Sullivan on his appointment as National Security Advisor," it said.
"Doval underscored that as leading democracies, with an abiding faith in an open and inclusive world order, India and the US were uniquely positioned to work closely on regional and international issues including combating the scourge of terrorism, maritime security, cybersecurity and peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond," the MEA said in a statement.
It said Sullivan stated that the US was looking forward to working together on the bilateral agenda and the common global challenges.
"The two NSAs agreed to work closely to further advance India-US relations, which are built on shared values and common strategic and security interests. They highlighted the need to work collectively to address challenges in the post-Covid era and further expand the Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership," the MEA said.
The Indo-US defence ties have been on an upswing in the last few years and in June 2016, the US had designated India a "Major Defence Partner".
The two countries have also inked key defence and security pacts over the past few years, including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that allows their militaries use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies as well as provides for deeper cooperation.
The two sides have also signed COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 that provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for the sale of high-end technology from the US to India.
In October last year, India and the US sealed the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) agreement to further boost bilateral defence ties. The pact provides for sharing of high-end military technology, logistics and geospatial maps between the two countries.
With PTI inputs