US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday spoke with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh over the phone and reaffirmed the American commitment to strengthening bilateral ties.

“The secretary offered his deepest condolences for the loss of General Rawat, India's Chief of Defence Staff, Mrs Rawat, his spouse, and all the other Indian service members who were involved and killed in that helicopter accident on the 8th of December,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters at his news conference. “He also, of course, reaffirmed the US commitment to strengthening US-India ties and to deepening our defence partnership,” Kirby said.

Thirteen of the 14 people on board the Mi-17V5 helicopter, including India's first chief of defence staff (CDS), his wife Madhulika Rawat were among those killed after it crashed on December 8. Leaders from across the world expressed grief over the death of the CDS Rawat.