New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a bilateral meeting with the US Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper on the sidelines of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) in Bangkok today. Expressing happiness at the growing relationship between India and the US, Singh said bilateral cooperation between the two sides has grown across a wide range of sectors including defence and security, economy, energy, counter-terrorism and people-to-people ties.
Singh added that there is growing convergence between India and US in the Indo-Pacific region and India’s vision for Indo-Pacific is a free & open, peaceful, prosperous and inclusive region supported by a rules-based order and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is central to India’s vision of the Indo-Pacific. Both countries are working together in the area of Maritime security including elements such as joint exercises, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations and Maritime Domain Awareness.
To that end, the maiden India-US joint tri-services HADR Exercise is presently ongoing and is scheduled to conclude on 21 November. Exercise ‘Tiger Triumph’, which began at Vizag, aims at developing interoperability for conducting HADR operations.
The two Ministers also discussed a number of other issues concerning regional security and bilateral defence cooperation. The meeting ended on a positive note and Singh said he looked forward to having substantial discussions during the forthcoming 2+2 dialogue in Washington DC later next month.
Later, in a tweet, Singh described his meeting with US Secretary of Defence as excellent. “We talked about ways to expand defence cooperation between India and the United States,” he tweeted.
Singh also had a discussion with Japan’s Minister of Defence, Taro Kono, on adding further momentum to India-Japan defence cooperation at ADMM-Plus.