Defence minister discusses COVID-19, military cooperation with US counterpart

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had a telephonic conversation with his US counterpart, Mark T Esper, on Friday and the two reviewed the progress in bilateral defence cooperation as also exchanged views on the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Esper was scheduled to visit India on March 15 and 16. However, the visit was cancelled due to the coronavirus threat.

“The two ministers exchanged views on the grave situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic and expressed confidence that through open communication and mutual support, the world can overcome the pandemic,” a statement issued by the Defence Ministry said.

They agreed to remain in touch during this “trying period”, it added.

“The two defence ministers reviewed the progress in bilateral defence cooperation spanning cooperation in the region, expanding military-to-military engagements and defence trade and industry, as part of the India-US comprehensive global strategic partnership,” the statement said.

Singh also briefed Esper about Prime Minister Narendra Modi”s initiative to coordinate COVID-19 relief efforts in South Asia.

He invited Esper to visit India at the earliest convenience, the statement said.

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