Elevating Partnership: Biden’s Defence Secy Nominee on India Ties

“I would further operationalise India’s major ‘Major Defence Partner’ status,” the US Defence Secy nominee said.

2 min read
FIle image of US President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of defence, Lloyd Austin.

US President-elect Joe Biden's nominee for secretary of defence, retired army general Lloyd J Austin, on Tuesday, 19 January, said his overarching objective for the defence relationship with India would be to continue elevating the partnership.

"I would further operationalise India's major '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. I would also seek to deepen and broaden our defence cooperation through the Quad security dialogue and other regional multilateral engagements," Austin was quoted as saying at the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing.

On Pakistan

On Pakistan, he said the country has taken steps against anti-Indian groups including Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, but added that the progress is "incomplete". He also said that he would work to "press Pakistan to prevent its territory from being used as a sanctuary for militants and violent extremist organisations", while calling the country an essential partner in the Afghan peace process.

During the hearing, Austin also called China a “pacing challenge for the department”, while flagging the country’s “increasingly aggressive actions” as concerning, reported Hindustan Times.

If confirmed, Austin would become the first African-American to take up the post of the secretary of defence.

His remarks came a day before Joe Biden is sworn-in as the 46th president on Wednesday in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic as well as the deadly Capitol riot. Outgoing US President Donald Trump has repeatedly peddled conspiracy theories of the election being 'stolen' from him.

(With inputs from PTI and Hindustan TImes.)

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