NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and the newly appointed US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin on Wednesday discussed India’s tensions with China over a telephone call.
Later in the day, Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval spoke to his new US.
The two telephone calls constitute the first high level contacts between India and the new Biden administration.
Both the conversations dwelt on the need for India and the US to work closely together on regional and international issues.
“Spoke with my US counterpart, @SecDef Austin & conveyed my warm wishes on his appointment. We reiterated our firm commitment to deepen India-US defence cooperation. We exchanged views on regional and global issues of mutual interest to strengthen our strategic partnership," Rajnath Singh said in a Twitter post.
The readout from Rajnath said that during the call that was initiated by Washington Singh and Austin “reaffirmed their commitment to work together to strengthen the multifaceted India-US defence cooperation and strategic partnership."
Tensions between India and China have been high for nine months with troops of the two countries engaged in an eye ball to eye ball confrontation since May 2020.
The previous Trump administration, which had fraught ties with China over a host of issues including trade and human rights, had backed India over tensions with Beijing. During the 2+2 talks between the foreign and defence ministers of India and the US in New Delhi on October, then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then Secretary of Defence Mark Esper had paid tributes to 20 Indian soldiers killed in a clash with
Meanwhile, the Indian foreign ministry in a statement said Doval “underscored that as leading democracies, with an abiding faith in an open and inclusive world order, India and the US were uniquely positioned to work closely on regional and international issues including combating the scourge of terrorism, maritime security, cyber security and peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond."
Sullivan on his part said the US was “looking forward to working together on the bilateral agenda and the common global challenges," the Indian statement said.
The two officials “highlighted the need to work collectively to address challenges in the post-Covid era and further expand the Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership," the foreign ministry statement added.
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