Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Welcomes Indian Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh to the Pentagon

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III hosts an honor cordon to welcome Indian Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh for talks at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., April 11, 2022. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD J. AUSTIN III: Well, Minister Singh, welcome to Washington, and it’s great to see you again. It’s a real pleasure to host you here at the Pentagon. We’re meeting at a critical moment in the U.S.-India defense partnership, and thanks to decades of hard work, we have built the foundation of one of the most important partnerships of this century.

Our partnership is based on a shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, one grounded in principles such as the rule of law and national sovereignty. We’re facing urgent and mounting challenges to this shared vision.

Across the region, the People’s Republic of China is attempting to challenge and undermine the sovereignty of its neighbors. Beijing is eroding the security of the Indo-Pacific region from its construction of dual-use infrastructure along your border to its unlawful claims in the South China Sea, and we will continue to stand alongside you as you defend your sovereign interest.

Beijing is not alone in its efforts to undermine the security of its neighbors and to change the status quo by force. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the humanitarian devastation that it has created are blatant attempts to undermine the international order that is grounded in the rules and the principles that we share.

And just as India’s leadership is central to this rules-based order, so, too, is the U.S.-India defense partnership and our collaboration with like-minded partners. We now coordinate along — alongside each other across the Indo-Pacific region and across domains, which is truly extraordinary, and we are committed to working seamlessly with you across new and emerging domains, including space and cyberspace.

And so, Mr. Minister, I look forward to discussing how we can further strengthen our bilateral cooperation and expand the role that our partnership plays in maintaining peace and security in the Indo-Pacific. So we’ve got an ambitious agenda for today. Thanks a lot for being here, and I’m anxious to get started.

INDIAN MINISTER OF DEFENSE RAJNATH SINGH: Thank you. Thank you, Excellency, Secretary Austin.

(THROUGH TRANSLATOR):  Secretary Austin, it is such a pleasure to meet you again. Your previous visit to Delhi in March, 2021 has been very useful. After your visit to Delhi in March, 2021, we were particularly happy, as you chose India among your first overseas destinations after appointment.

Secretary Austin, I am very happy to be in Washington, D.C., again. This meeting and our coming 2+2 dialogue are indeed important landmarks in our bilateral relationship. I am (inaudible) that our visit here shall take India-U.S. comprehensive strategic partnership to the next level. I thank you for your hospitality, and I hope that this engagement will prove to be beneficial to strengthen our bilateral relationship.

MIN. SINGH:  Thank you. Thank you very much.

SEC. AUSTIN:  I look forward to our discussions.