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SOURCE: PTI

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday held a bilateral meeting with US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin in Cambodia as the two leaders discussed a wide range of issues of mutual interest while expressing their commitment to a strong India-US defence cooperation.

Singh and Austin are in Cambodia to attend the 9th ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Plus, the defence ministry here said in a statement. It said Singh and Austin met each other at Siem Reap with “great warmth” and “expressed satisfaction at the growing bilateral defence engagements”.

Singh was accompanied by Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane and other senior officials of the Ministry of Defence, it said.

Defence Minister Singh shared pictures of his meetings with Austin on Twitter.

“Delighted to meet the US Secretary of Defence, Mr Lloyd J. Austin in Siem Reap. @SecDef,” he wrote on the microblogging site.

The two leaders discussed a “wide range of issues of mutual interest while expressing their commitment to a strong India-US defence cooperation”.

Singh emphasised the need for both countries to work together for capability building in critical domains such as military aviation, artificial intelligence and cyber technology.

The defence minister looked forward to building a roadmap towards greater defence industrial collaboration between India and the US, the statement said.

Singh highlighted India’s growing expertise in aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and shipbuilding, repairs and refits and suggested specific areas where US defence companies can look for technology cooperation and manufacturing opportunities with Indian partners in India, the statement said.

Secretary Austin welcomed the suggestions and assured Singh of cooperation in this regard, it said.

“The two leaders expressed their commitment towards an inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific with freedom of navigation, overflight and unimpeded trade. They further discussed initiatives that can be taken to strengthen maritime cooperation between the two countries including in maritime domain awareness. Both leaders also shared their perspectives on the regional security situation,” the defence ministry said.