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


WASHINGTON: The US Defence 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 Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and other leaders as the United States and India continue to modernise the US-India Major Defence Partnership, the Pentagon said on Thursday, announcing the defence secretary’s trip to Japan, Singapore, India and France next week.

“This visit provides an opportunity to accelerate new defence 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 Japanese Defence Minister Yasukasu Hamada and other senior leaders and also visit the US troops stationed in Japan, it said.

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

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 French and the United Kingdom defence leaders, it added.