New Delhi: US Secretary of Defence Lloyd James Austin III reached New Delhi on Friday for a three-day visit to India, he called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and conveyed greetings of US President Joe Biden, the PMO said in a press release.

PM Modi “welcomed the warm and close relationship between the two countries, which is rooted in shared values of democracy, pluralism and commitment to a rules-based order”, the release said.

Taking to microblogging site Twitter, PM Modi informed about his meeting with Austin. He wrote: “Pleasure to meet US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin today. Conveyed my best wishes to President of US Joe Biden. India and US are committed to our strategic partnership that is a force for global good.”

The Prime Minister outlined his vision for the strategic partnership between the two nations and emphasised the important role of bilateral defence cooperation.

The PM asked Austin to convey his best wishes to Biden.

Austin who is on a three-nation first overseas tour as the Defence Secretary, stopped in New Delhi on Friday. His visit is seen as a reflection of the Joe Biden administration’s strong commitment to its relations with its close allies and partners in the region. The US defence secretary visited Japan and South Korea before arriving in India.

The defence secretary’s India visit comes days after the top leadership of the Quad grouping of India, the US, Japan and Australia vowed to expand their cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region. 

The Indo-US defence ties have been on an upswing with US designating India “Major Defence Partner” in June 2016.

The two countries also inked key defence and security pacts over the past few years, including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016. 

The COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) signed in 2018 provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for sale of high end technology from the US to India.

In October 2020, India and the US sealed the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) agreement to further boost bilateral defence ties. 

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