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Saturday, Dec 14, 2019

Rajnath Singh, Mark T Esper talks focus on Indo-Pacific

In the meeting with US defence secretary Mark T Esper, Rajnath Singh reaffirmed New Delhi’s vision for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region based on a rules-based order and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.

india Updated: Nov 18, 2019 02:04 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Bangkok
Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during a meeting with US Secretary of Defence, Dr Mark T Esper in Bangkok on Sunday.
Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh during a meeting with US Secretary of Defence, Dr Mark T Esper in Bangkok on Sunday. (Photo: ANI)
         

Union defence minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday held talks with US defence secretary Mark T Esper in Bangkok, with a focus on the situation in the Indo-Pacific region and ways to bolster security cooperation between the two sides, the defence ministry said in a statement.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus), a platform comprising ASEAN and its eight dialogue partners including India.

The defence minister also held separate bilateral meetings with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono, Australian counterpart Linda Reynolds, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan and New Zealand’s Defence Minister Ron Mark. The broad focus of the meetings was to add further momentum to bilateral defence cooperation, the statement added.

In the meeting with Esper, Singh reaffirmed New Delhi’s vision for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region based on a rules-based order and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.

China has been fast expanding military and economic influence in the Indo-Pacific region, trigggering concern in various countries of the region and beyond.

Singh said there has been a growing convergence between India and the US on the Indo-Pacific, adding the 10-member grouping of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is central to New Delhi’s vision for the region.

“Had an excellent meeting with US Secretary of Defence, Dr. Mark T Esper in Bangkok today. We talked about ways to expand defence cooperation between India and the United States,” he tweeted.

Singh conveyed to his American counterpart that he was looking forward to holding substantial discussions during the deliberations under the ‘two-plus-two’ foreign and defence ministerial dialogue between the two countries in Washington later next month, the defence ministry statement added.

“Both the leaders expressed satisfaction over the increasing defence engagements between the two countries and looked forward to meeting again for the 2+2 meeting in Washington DC later next month,” the statement from the defence ministry said.

The inaugural Indo-US ‘two-plus-two’ talks took place in September last year.

The ADMM-Plus meeting is scheduled to take place on Monday and defence ministers of 18 ADMM-Plus countries are slated to take part in it.