US, Australia see key role for India in Indo-Pacific security

India will have a key role in defence cooperation and post-Covid-19 recovery efforts in the Indo-Pacific by the US and Australia, which plan to strengthen partnerships in the region to ensure it remains secure, inclusive and rules-based.

The matter figured in a meeting between US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and defence secretary Mark Esper and their Australian counterparts Marise Payne and Linda Reynolds in Washington on Tuesday, with a joint statement issued by the two sides making several references to India’s role in the Indo-Pacific.

The US and Australia also expressed serious concerns about China’s “recent coercive and destabilising actions across the Indo-Pacific”, and the two countries said the Covid-19 pandemic has “created incentives for some actors to pursue strategic gains in ways that undermine the rules-based international order and regional stability”.

The development comes at a time when India is set to include Australia in the Malabar naval exercise that it conducts with the US and Japan, and against the backdrop of the months-old border stand-off with China.

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