The United States Secretary of Defence, General Lloyd J Austin will visit India from March 19 to 21 2021, the government said in a statement. Through his visit, the Secretary is assumed to meet Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and other senior dignitaries of the government.
Both sides are supposed to discuss ways to further strengthen bilateral defence cooperation, mutual benefits in keeping a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, the defence ministry said on Wednesday. It said Austin’s visit to India as part of his first overseas travel highlights the strength of the India-US diplomatic partnership. Also, it is for the first time that India has been added to the itinerary of the first overseas trip of a US Defence Secretary.
Conversations on defence cooperation would also concentrate on how both countries could strengthen military-to-military cooperation and defence trade and industry cooperation. According to the US Dept of Defence Austin will start on his first overseas trip on March 13, to visit the US Indo-Pacific Command Headquarters in Hawaii, US troops and senior government leaders in Japan and the Republic of Korea, and senior government leaders in India. In Japan, Secretary Austin will meet US Department of State Secretary Antony Blinken for the US-Japan Security Consultative Committee, hosted by Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi, to highlight that the US-Japan Alliance has never been more strong and flexible – the foundation of peace and security in a free and open Indo-Pacific in the face of long-term competition with China, it said.
In South Korea, Secretary Austin and Antony Blinken will attend a US-South Korea Foreign and Defence Ministerial, hosted by Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and Defence Minister Suh Wook, to affirm the United States’ ironclad engagement to the security of the Republic of Korea, and indicate that the US-South Korea alliance remains a pillar of peace, security, and prosperity in Northeast Asia, a free and open Indo-Pacific, and around the world, the Pentagon told.