US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is set to embark on a two-day visit to India beginning Sunday, aimed at expanding bilateral strategic engagement.
The visit comes ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming trip to Washington, where discussions with US President Joe Biden are expected to pave the way for new defense cooperation projects.
During Austin’s visit, he will hold talks with Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, focusing on key areas such as countering China’s aggressive behavior in the Indo-Pacific region, addressing security concerns along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and combating the global threat of terrorism.
Expanding defense cooperation projects
Austin’s visit to India will be his second, following his previous trip in March 2021. The discussions between Austin and Singh are expected to unveil new defense cooperation projects that will reinforce the existing ties between the two countries.
These projects will likely be announced after Prime Minister Modi’s talks with President Biden in Washington, which are scheduled to take place more than two weeks later. The bilateral discussions will also address the need to address China’s assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as the security challenges faced along the Line of Actual Control.
Focus on combating threats and terrorism
Addressing China’s aggressive actions in the Indo-Pacific region is a significant focus of the talks between Singh and Austin. Both India and the United States share deep concerns regarding China’s increasing influence and assertiveness, and they are committed to finding effective measures to counterbalance these activities. Additionally, the discussions will encompass comprehensive strategies to combat the persistent global challenge of terrorism.
Through bolstered cooperation in intelligence sharing and joint counterterrorism operations, India and the US aim to fortify their collective capabilities in preventing and responding to terrorist threats. By prioritizing intelligence collaboration, both nations strive to enhance their situational awareness, improve preemptive measures, and ensure swift and coordinated responses to emerging security challenges. The ongoing dialogue underscores the commitment to a stronger partnership between India and the US in addressing regional security concerns and countering global terrorism.
Industrial cooperation and bilateral defense issues
Apart from the discussions with Austin, Defense Minister Singh will also hold bilateral talks with Germany’s Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius, scheduled for June 6. These talks will primarily focus on various aspects of defense cooperation, with a particular emphasis on industrial collaboration. The meetings aim to explore opportunities for joint ventures, technology transfers, and cooperation in the defense manufacturing sector. The talks between Singh and Pistorius will further solidify the partnership between India and Germany in the field of defense.
India and the United States have witnessed a significant upswing in their defense and strategic ties over the past few years. The two nations have signed crucial defense and security agreements, such as the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016, which allows for the use of each other’s military bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.
They have also established the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) in 2018, ensuring interoperability between their militaries and facilitating the sale of advanced technology from the US to India. Furthermore, the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) signed in October 2020 enables the sharing of high-end military technology, logistics, and geospatial maps. These agreements have bolstered the defense ties between the two countries, paving the way for enhanced cooperation and collaboration.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius is set to visit New Delhi on 6th of June, for bilateral talks with Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh. During his four-day visit, Pistorius is expected to meet with officials from defense start-ups, showcasing the importance of innovation in the defense sector.