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 Philippines 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 defence 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 defence 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.

According to the USSOCOM website, the hostage rescue and recovery, unconventional warfare, counterinsurgency, counter terrorism, special reconnaissance and countering weapons of mass destruction are some of the operations under taken by the personnel of the command.

The Indian Army has been engaged in extensive counter insurgency operations given terrorism in Kashmir. Personnel of the US and the Indian army have trained together in the Counter-Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School in Vairengte, Mizoram.

Clarke’s visit also comes at a time when the US has pulled out its troops from Afghanistan after an almost 20 year long stay which has intensified the fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces. The US has been on the lookout for bases in the region from where it could launch strikes to help the Afghan security forces but Pakistan recently refused to host one.

On Wednesday, US said that the Taliban winning territory through violence and disregarding women’s rights would make it a “pariah state," a view similar to the one held by New Delhi.