US commander Richard Clarke holds talk with Indian defence officials

By Livemint

The Commander of US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), General Richard D. Clarke held talks with Indian defence and military officials in New Delhi on Thursday, a day after a visit by the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to India.

According to a statement by the US embassy in New Delhi, “the meetings are part of a routine visit through multiple countries in Asia.”

Clarke’s visit to India also coincides with a swing through Southeast Asia by US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin. The US defence secretary was in Singapore and Vietnam earlier this week and on Thursday was in the Phillipines in an effort to push back against the hold China has on the region and emphasize the importance Washington places on strengthening ties.

In New Delhi on Thursday, Clarke began his visit by paying tribute to India’s fallen service members by laying a wreath at the National War Memorial.

Later Clarke met Indian defence officials and “discussed ways India and the United States can continue working together to improve defense partnerships and grow interoperability,” the Indian statement said.

“Our partnership with India is vital in the Indo-Pacific, and our teamwork helps provide security throughout the region,” Clarke said. “Whether we’re training together in exercises, or cooperating in many other areas, our relationship with India is strong and continues to grow. I want to thank the Indian defense team for their leadership, friendship, and commitment to ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

India has joined hands with the US, Japan and Australia to form the Quad group which New Delhi and others describe as bracketing together like minded countries. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken made it a point to underline that the Quad grouping was not a military alliance.

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