India and the United States decided to extend their cooperation on defence, cyberspace, space and maritime security when Union minister Rajnath Singh and S Jaishankar met their respective counterparts secretaries Lloyd Austin and Antony Blinken. The US said that it considers India as a net provider of security in the Indo-Pacific.

Austin, however, urged India again to move away from Russian defence imports and urged India to buy more from American defence platforms. “We’re doing all this because the United States supports India as a defence industry leader in the Indo-Pacific, and a net provider of security in the region,” Austin said. He said that India has relied

Leaders discussed how areas of partnership can be extended and highlighted that the international community entrusts both nations to protect and uphold rules-based international order. The US, in releases published by the Department Of Defence and US State Department, reiterated that it depends on India to uphold the rules-based order.

During the meeting between Rajnath Singh and Lloyd Austin, both ministers discussed an agreement to work together on air-launched unmanned aerial vehicles. Lloyd said that the US Space Command and India’s Defence Space Agency will launch new defence space exchanges this year.

The ministers also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to exchange information related to space research. Both nations signed Space Situational Awareness MoU on Monday (local time) in Washington.

The US reaffirmed that it will support India’s bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and batted for India’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group.

Both nations also agreed to extend military cooperation with an eye on China and the Indo-Pacific. “The People’s Republic of China is attempting to challenge and undermine the sovereignty of its neighbours. Beijing is not alone in its efforts to undermine the security of its neighbours and to change the status quo by force,’ Austin said, referring to Russia.

Liaison exchanges between both nations were also discussed and both nations agreed to further enhance their cooperation through Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) and the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA). Under BECA, Washington and New Delhi can exchange geospatial information on maps and satellites for defence purposes which can help enhance the accuracy of automated systems and weapons along with navigation and targeting using high-quality GPS systems which the US possesses.

Under COMCASA, India can utilise encrypted communications equipment and systems of the US and the military administration of both nations can communicate through secure networks in times of peace as well as war.

Rajnath Singh and Austin also discussed the importance of continuing the joint military drills between both nations and said that the respective armies will participate ‘in the MALABAR exercise with inclusion of Australia, the tri-service TIGER TRIUMPH exercise, the multilateral MILAN naval exercise, the bilateral YUDH ABHYAS and VAJRA PRAHAR Army exercises, the bilateral COPE India air exercise, and Indian participation in RED FLAG’, the external affairs ministry said in a release.