Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to travel to India ahead of PM Modi's US visit

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to travel to India ahead of PM Modi’s US visit

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to New Delhi next week to meet his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh, the Pentagon has announced.

The visit precedes Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official state visit to White House next month.

Austin will visit New Delhi to meet with Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and other leaders as the United States and India continue to modernise the US-India Major Defense Partnership, the Pentagon said on Thursday, announcing the defense secretary’s trip to Japan, Singapore, India and France next week.

This visit provides an opportunity to accelerate new defense innovation and industrial cooperation initiatives and drive ongoing efforts to expand operational cooperation between the US and Indian militaries, the Pentagon said.

Austin will begin his trip from Japan, as part of his seventh official visit to the Indo-Pacific region. In Tokyo, he plans to meet with Japanese Defense Minister Yasukasu Hamada and other senior leaders and also visit the US troops stationed in Japan, it said.

The visit also comes as the United States and Japan take important strides to modernise alliance capabilities, optimise US force posture, and build links with like-minded partners following the historic US-Japan 2+2 ministerial meeting earlier this year, the Pentagon said.

From there, Austin will travel to Singapore where he will deliver plenary remarks at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) 20th Shangri-La Dialogue.

On the margins of the Dialogue, the secretary will meet with key leaders to advance US defense partnerships across the region in support of the shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, anchored in ASEAN centrality.

After Singapore, Austin will visit New Delhi and then conclude his trip in France to participate in events commemorating the 79th anniversary of D-Day, and meet with French and the United Kingdom defense leaders, it added.