New Delhi: US Defence Secretary Lloyd J. Austin-III will arrive on an official visit to India starting next week with an aim to expand defence industrial partnership.

The US Defence Secretary will travel to New Delhi on an official visit to India as part of his four-nation tour. The visit holds particular significance considering Prime Minister Narendra Modi's upcoming state visit to the White House in June.

The Pentagon announced that Austin's first stop will be in Tokyo where he will meet with Japanese Defence Minister Yasukasu Hamada and other senior leaders and visit US troops stationed in Japan.

Later, from Japan, he will fly to Singapore, where he is scheduled to address plenary remarks at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) 20th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

During his stay in Singapore, he will also hold key bilateral meetings to advance US partnerships across the region.

Following his visit to Singapore, Austin will travel to New Delhi, on the third leg of his tour, which will prominently focus on advancing India-US new defence innovation and industrial cooperation initiatives and continuing with the efforts to expand operational cooperation between the U.S. and Indian militaries.

The Pentagon while elaborating on the details of the Defence Secretary's visit, said, "After Singapore, Secretary Austin will visit New Delhi to meet with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and other leaders as the United States and India continue to modernize the US-India Major Defence Partnership."

"This visit provides an opportunity to accelerate new defence innovation and industrial cooperation initiatives and drive ongoing efforts to expand operational cooperation between the U.S. and Indian militaries," the statement added.

The Defence Secretary while speaking ahead of his four-nation tour, said: "I look forward to travelling to Japan, Singapore, India and France next week. We've made ground-breaking progress over the past year alongside our allies and partners towards advancing our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific."

Also just before PM Modi's visit to the US, a powerful Congressional Committee has recommended strengthening NATO Plus by including India. This step is a move to deter China.

The suggestion of including India in the five-member grouping has been made by the committee to win the "strategic competition with the Chinese Communist Party".

Presently, NATO Plus-5 is a security arrangement that works towards boosting global defence cooperation and comprises NATO and five aligned countries, Australia, Japan, Israel, New Zealand and South Korea.

India getting included in NATO Plus would mean the facilitation of seamless intelligence sharing between these nations and India and access to the latest military technology with a minimal time lag, reported NewsonAir.

The US House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the US and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) at a meeting on May 24, made the resounding decision. The committee rolled out a policy proposal that aims to bolster Taiwan's deterrence capabilities, primarily by reinforcing NATO Plus with the inclusion of India.

The meeting was led by Chairman Mike Gallagher and Ranking Member Raja Krishnamoorthi,

The Select Committee suggested: "Winning the strategic competition with the Chinese Communist Party and ensuring the security of Taiwan demands the United States strengthen ties to our allies and security partners, including India. Including India in NATO Plus security arrangements would build upon the US and India's close partnership to strengthen global security and deter the aggression of the CCP across the Indo-Pacific region."