The United States and India are committed to working together as steadfast partners to advance their shared vision for a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific, and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar reaffirmed this during their meeting on Monday at the Pentagon.
The officials discussed ways to deepen their bilateral defense cooperation and military ties, having in mind that the main challenge to that vision, at least as Pentagon sees it, is Beijing, which is challenging the rules-based international order.
Washington has accused China of triggering territorial disputes with various nations in the South China Sea and, escalating things, vowing to reunify with, as Beijing claims, its breakaway province Taiwan.
The clash between China and the US over Taiwan has increased significantly in recent months, especially after the August visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the self-governing island, which Beijing blasted as undermining its sovereignty, responding by holding military exercises in the Taiwan Strait and cutting off military and climate ties with Washington.
Noting Beijing’s intensified efforts to challenge the rules-based international order, Austin stressed that due to China’s increasing bellicosity, especially regarding Taiwan, regional security is especially important at the moment.
He pointed out that Washington and New Delhi face sustained challenges to peace, security, and prosperity around the world which, as he said, only reaffirm the importance of their partnership.
Washington, however, has so far failed to persuade India to stop doing business with Russia – which the US condemns over its unprovoked and cruel invasion of Ukraine – and cut back on its reliance on Russian energy and weaponry. Even Jaishankar has downplayed the Ukraine aspect of Monday’s meeting.
New Delhi, on the other hand, has sharply increased oil and coal imports from Russia this year despite the US State Department’s talks with Indian officials.