We consider India to be a great partner: US Secretary of Defense

The United States considers India to be a great partner, and both Washington and New Delhi are promoting peace and stability in the region and providing for a free and open Indo-Pacific region, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Saturday.
Austin, who arrived in Delhi on Friday, is on a three-day official visit to India. It is the first visit to India by a top official of the Biden administration.
During a press conference, he said: “We consider India to be a great partner and again I think we have done a number of things to work well together. There’s just a lot of opportunity there to strengthen that partnership and to do some things, additional things to make sure that we’re promoting peace and stability in the region and providing for a free and open Indo-Pacific region, as well”.
“We covered a wide range of topics that included equipment. It also included information sharing; it included additional opportunities for assisting each other logistically and just a number of things. And those were really, really good conversations,” added Austin.
Regarding India and US cooperation to counter China, Austin said: “I think that continuing to work with like-minded countries as we are working with India, we are working with Australia, Japan and others in the region to ensure that we maintain a freedom of navigation that we do — we’re doing the right things to promote peace and stability in the region and that we really work together to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”
Talking on engagement with a multilateral group like Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Austin said, “Yes, I, clearly from a defense perspective, we do have a number of things in common, and if you just look at the countries overall, if you look at Australia, India, Japan, us, you know we really are interested in maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific region. We’re interested in being able to navigate the seas and fly the skies and international space and maintain that degree of flexibility. “
“Now if you look at the fact that India and us are the largest democracies in the world. There is clearly some shared values there that we’ll continue work together to — we can build upon that and we are building upon it in economic interest. So, there are a number of things that we can and will work on going forward,” he added.
He also discussed mutual agreements in terms of increasing interoperability, more exercises, frequent exchanges in the Indo-Pacific in order to build great capacity, greater capability.