The United States will continue to build on the “strong defence cooperation” with India and ensure increased collaboration between the two militaries on shared interests, said US President Joe Biden’s nominee for defence secretary Lloyd Austin.
Responding to questions raised by the Senate Armed Forces Committee, Austin said, “I would further operationalise India’s ‘major defence partner’ status and continue to build upon existing strong defence cooperation to ensure the US and Indian militaries can collaborate to address shared interests.”
It should be noted that India was given the ‘major defence partner’ status by the United States in 2016 when Barack Obama was president and Biden was the vice president.
“If confirmed, my overarching objective for our defence relationship with India would be to continue elevating the partnership,” he said.
Austin also brought a multilateral element to the cooperation with India by mentioning the Quad, the strategic Indo-Pacific group of India, the United States, Japan and Australia.
“I would also seek to deepen and broaden our defence cooperation through the Quad security dialogue and other regional multilateral engagements,” he said.
The Quad was revived during Trump’s administration and received a boost in its pivot to the Indo-Pacific as threats from China to the regional partners grew.