Jaishankar, Austin Discuss New Opportunities for Bilateral Defence Industrial Cooperation

Austin and Jaishankar committed to expanding information-sharing and logistics cooperation to drive deeper operational coordination between the US and Indian militaries.

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Washington: External affairs minister S. Jaishankar and US defence secretary Lloyd Austin have discussed new opportunities for bilateral defence industrial cooperation, a move which Pentagon said would enhance New Delhi’s contribution as a regional security provider.

Jaishankar, who is on a four-day official trip to Washington, drove down to the Pentagon on Monday for a meeting with Austin.

The two leaders reviewed priority lines of effort to deepen bilateral defence cooperation, as the United States and India progress toward a more advanced stage in their partnership, according to a Pentagon readout of the meeting.

Austin and Jaishankar committed to expanding information-sharing and logistics cooperation to drive deeper operational coordination between the US and Indian militaries.

“They also discussed new opportunities for bilateral defence industrial cooperation in support of India’s contributions as a regional security provider, including the launch of a new defence dialogue later this year as the United States and India work more closely together across space, cyber, artificial intelligence, and other technology areas,” the Pentagon said.

During the meeting, the two leaders underscored the value of the deepening collaboration between the US, India, Australia, Japan, and European partners.

In this context, the US looks forward to working with India and like-minded partners to promote security, prosperity, and transparency throughout the region, including through the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness, the Pentagon said, amid China flexing muscles in the strategic region.

The United States, India, Japan and Australia have formed the Quad, a four-way grouping. They have been stepping up cooperation in various fields such as defence and energy amid China’s increasing military and economic clout in the region.

China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea. China also has territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea.

The relations between India and China have soured over the incursion by Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh in May 2020, leading to a prolonged military standoff that is still unresolved.

On the sidelines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly last week, the Quad strongly opposed any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo or increase tensions in the Indo-Pacific, amidst China’s increasingly intimidatory behaviour in the region.

Welcoming Jaishankar to the Pentagon, Austin recollected his recent phone call with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. They exchanged perspectives on a range of issues of shared interest, spanning recent developments in East Asia, the Indian Ocean Region, and the global reverberations of the Ukraine crisis, the readout said.

The Pentagon said Austin and Jaishankar reaffirmed their commitment to working together as steadfast partners to advance the United States and India’s shared vision for a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific.

Meanwhile, after the meeting, Jaishankar tweeted, “Defence and Security cooperation is a key pillar of the contemporary India-US partnership. We noted the steady progress in policy exchange, interoperability, defence trade, service exercises and military-industrial cooperation.”

“Exchanged perspectives on the Ukraine conflict, Indo-Pacific developments, maritime challenges and regional issues,” he added.