New Delhi: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was in Bangkok, Thailand, on 17 November to attend the 6th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) on 17 November. On the sidelines of the conference, Singh held bilateral meetings with US Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper; Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand General Prawit Wongsuwan; Defence Minister of Japan Taro Kono; Defence Minister of Australia Linda Reynolds; and Defence Minister of New Zealand Ron Mark. In the deliberations, Singh reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral defence relations with the respective leaders and discussed ways to further improve ties.
It was Singh’s first meeting with the US Secretary of Defence. Both leaders expressed satisfaction over increasing engagements between the two countries and looked forward to the 2+2 meeting in Washington DC next month. Rajnath also discussed the regional security situation and shared with Esper India’s vision and perspective on the Indo-Pacific.
India and the US are presently engaged in the ongoing maiden India-US joint tri-services HADR Exercise, scheduled to conclude on 21 November. Exercise ‘Tiger Triumph’, which began in Vizag, aims at developing interoperability for conducting HADR operations.
In his meeting with Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand General Prawit Wongsuwan, Singh discussed a range of issues pertaining to bilateral relations between India and Thailand. Singh complimented the Deputy PM for the successful conduct of activities during 2019 as the Chair of ADMM-Plus and ASEAN. Singh also apprised General Wongsuwan about the ‘Act East’ policy of the Government of India and the centrality of ASEAN in the Indo-Pacific policy.
Singh’s meeting with the Defence Minister of Japan Taro Kono was also his first with the leader. They will meet again in New Delhi for the 2+2 meeting scheduled later in November. Both leaders had a detailed discussion on adding further momentum to Indo-Japanese Defence cooperation. They expressed satisfaction over Defence engagements and exercises between the Armed Forces.
Defence Minister Singh also met his counterparts from Australia and New Zealand and discussed ongoing Defence cooperation and potential areas for enhanced engagement. The Australia Defence Minister is likely to visit New Delhi early next year during the Raisina dialogue.
The ADMM-Plus summit will be held today (18 November) in which the Defence Ministers of 18 ADMM-Plus countries will participate.
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