Washington, Dec 4: India and the United States will further expand defence cooperation, especially in manufacturing, building on the discussions and outcome of the September 2 plus 2 Dialogue held in New Delhi.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on an official visit to the US, met US Defence Secretary James Mattis on Monday and the discussions focused on the growing defence partnership between the two countries.
Welcoming her at the Pentagon, Mattis referred to India's stress on strategic autonomy and said the growing partnership showed that "there is no contradiction between strategic autonomy and strategic partnership."
"Today, I reiterate US appreciation for India's leadership as a stabilizing force in pursuit of that vision, promoting peace and security across the region and the globe. The 2+2 Ministerial also made clear our commitment to further bolster our major defence partnership.
"Today, we build on that momentum, as we work to implement our agreements from September, including our Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement."
Mattis said the 2+2 ministerial dialogue served as a tangible demonstration of the shared vision for a safe, secure, prosperous and free Indo-Pacific, underpinned by respect for the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of all nations, a US Department of Defense statement said.
Sitharaman on her part highlighted the steps taken by the Indian government to promote defence manufacturing, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” flagship programme.
She is scheduled to visit the Defense Innovation Unit of the US Department of Defense and interact with startups and venture capitalists associated with this Unit.
Both Sitharaman and Mattis also exchanged views on a broad range of bilateral and international issues of mutual interest, according to the Indian Embassy in Washington.
Ajay Kumar, Secretary, Department Of Defence Production, US Ambassador to India Ken Juster, US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood,Director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency Lt Genl Charles Hooper, Secretary, US Navy, Richard Spencer, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin were present at the meeting.
Sitharaman was accorded the Armed Forces Enhanced Honors Cordon welcome. Mattis hosted a dinner in her honour.
Earlier in the day, Sitharaman placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetary in Washington, D.C. and visited the State Department where she signed the condolence book for former US President George H.W. Bush.
On Tuesday, the defence minister will visit Reno, Nevada, where she is scheduled to hold meetings with select leaders of Indian community, and then San Francisco where she is expected to address a round table at Stanford University. (UNI)