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Defence Diplomacy in Action: Rajnath Singh Engages in High-Stakes Discussions with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin

  • Posted on June 5, 2023
  • News
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and US Defence Secretary Lloyd J Austin during their joint statement after meeting at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi

India-US defense relationship:-

On Monday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh of India engaged in extensive discussions with his American counterpart, Lloyd Austin, to address various important aspects of the India-US defense relationship, as well as the regional security situation in the Indo-Pacific. Austin's visit to New Delhi spanned two days and preceded Prime Minister Narendra Modi's upcoming state visit to Washington by over two weeks.

Before the talks took place, it was mentioned by individuals familiar with Austin's visit that the discussions would revolve around several significant areas of cooperation, such as the transfer of critical technologies for the joint development of military equipment. The meeting commenced with a guard of honor accorded to Secretary Austin at the Manekshaw Centre.

Rajnath Singh, Lloyd Austin pave way for stronger India-US military ties
Rajnath Singh, Lloyd Austin pave way for stronger India-US military ties

Austin tweeted on Sunday, stating, "I'm returning to India to meet with key leaders for discussions about strengthening our Major Defense Partnership. Together, we're advancing a shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific."

According to the aforementioned sources, Singh and Austin were expected to cover various topics during their discussions, including General Electric's proposal to share technology with India for fighter jet engines. Additionally, New Delhi's plan to acquire 30 MQ-9B armed drones from US defense company General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc at a cost of over USD 3 billion would also be addressed, among other issues.

During his visit, Secretary Austin inspected the Tri-Service Guard of Honour in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in the national capital. This marks Austin's second visit to India, following his previous trip in March 2021.

Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Friday, the US Defence Secretary emphasized, "Our Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology with India lets us explore new ways to co-develop key defence platforms."

Last year, President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the US-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET), aimed at elevating and expanding the strategic technology partnership and defense industrial cooperation between the two nations. 

The iCET is expected to foster stronger connections between the governments, academic institutions, and industries of both countries in areas such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, 5G and 6G technology, biotechnology, space, and semiconductors.

Over the past few years, India and the US have signed significant defense and security agreements, including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016, which allows the two countries' militaries to utilize each other's bases for repairs and supplies. 

India-US Ties: US Defense Minister Lloyd Austin will reach India today, will hold bilateral talks with Rajnath Singh
India-US Ties: US Defense Minister Lloyd Austin will reach India today, will hold bilateral talks with Rajnath Singh

The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) was signed in 2018, promoting interoperability between the two armed forces and facilitating the sale of advanced technology from the US to India. In October 2020, the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) agreement was concluded, further strengthening bilateral defense ties by enabling the sharing of high-end military technology, logistics, and geospatial maps between the two Nations .

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