Washington: US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin on Monday hosted Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at the Pentagon for talks on the developing defence partnership between the two nations.

Pentagon in a release said the topics of discussion will include the problems posed by China and Russia in the region and around the world. Later, they will move on to the State Department to join Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Indian Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar for the so-called "two-plus-two" talks.

"This meeting and upcoming two-plus-two dialogue are indeed important landmarks in our bilateral relationship," Singh said. "I am positive that our visit here shall take India- U.S. comprehensive strategic partnership to the next level."

"We're meeting at a critical moment in the US-India defence partnership," Austin told Singh at the beginning of their meeting. "And thanks to decades of hard work, we have built the foundation of one of the most important partnerships of this century."

According to the US Defence Department, India and the United States share the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific. This international, rules-based structure has served the region and globe well since its adoption at the end of World War II. At its heart, this system is based on the rule of law and national sovereignty.

"We're facing urgent and mounting challenges to this shared vision," Austin said. "Across the region, the People's Republic of China is attempting to challenge and undermine the sovereignty of its neighbours."

The Chinese are constructing dual-use infrastructure along its border with India, and Chinese leaders continue to make unlawful claims in the South China Sea. The United States stands with India in defending their sovereign interests," Austin said.

"Beijing is not alone in its efforts to undermine the security of its neighbours and to change the status quo by force," he said. "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."

India is the world's largest democracy, and India's leadership is central to this rules-based order, Austin said. "So too, is a US-India defence partnership and our collaboration with like-minded partners," he said. "We now coordinate 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."