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India, US to further deepen defence co-operation

India and the United States announced on 20 March that they are planning to further deepen their bilateral defence co-operation and partnership.

Following a meeting in New Delhi with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, “We are determined to expand India-US co-operation, from bilateral and multilateral exercises to developing closer bilateral linkages. We intend to pursue enhanced co-operation between the Indian military and US Indo-Pacific Command, Central Command and Africa Command.

“Closer India-US co-operation, in partnership with countries keen to uphold rules-based order, can promote security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond,” noted Singh, adding that the 12 March virtual summit held between the leaders of the so-called ‘Quad’ countries – Australia, India, Japan, and the US – “has emphasised our resolve to maintain a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific”.

During the meeting in New Delhi the two sides discussed a range of issues “with a focus on enhancing defence information sharing, co-operation in emerging domains of defence, mutual logistics support, and expanding military-to-military engagements across services”, noted Singh.

They also reviewed the range of bilateral and multilateral exercises, and discussed steps to be taken to “realise the full potential” of the foundational agreements signed between the two countries.

These include the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), said the minister, emphasising that the partnership between the countries in the field of defence has “acquired the dimensions of strategic partnership” over the past decade.

Moreover, Singh said that the two sides agreed there are “opportunities for collaboration in defence industry”, pointing out that he invited “US industry to take advantage of India’s liberalised foreign direct investment policies in the defence sector”.

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