India Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Friday concluded her five-day visit to the United States, which officials said was aimed at “accelerating the momentum” of India-US defence ties — from enhancing India’s naval capabilities in the Indian Ocean region, to increasing the footprint of American companies in Make in India programme, and substantially increasing bilateral defence trade.
Sitharaman capped off her trip with a visit to Hawaii – the headquarters of the what early this year was rechristened as US Indo-Pacific Command. This United States has now started acknowledging Asia Pacific as Indo-Pacific and renamed Pacific Command as Indo-Pacific Command or INDOPACOM.
“Our two democratic nations are committed to upholding a rules-based international order, which has brought decades of peace, stability, and prosperity. We are global partners on defence and security and this exemplifies our mutual cooperation to assure a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said US INDOPACOM Commander Adm Phil Davidson.
— India in USA (@IndianEmbassyUS) December 8, 2018
Sitharaman, the first woman defence minister of India, was accorded a red-carpet welcome during her maiden visit to the US in this capacity wherein she was given a rare look-in and briefing into the various aspects of US armed forces, defence industry and the ecosystem that the United States has developed over the last few decades involving the military, strategic thinking community, research and industrial base.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will now, after her US tour, engage with her Russian counterpart to take the long-standing relationship forward.
“Russia had proposed such military logistics agreement with India in August and during Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s meet in October in New Delhi, the issue gained momentum. A draft has been prepared and during next week’s meeting, the two sides are expected to work on the modalities of it,” said an official.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu is coming to New Delhi to have an extensive dialogue with his Indian counterpart, the first after the two sides inked a $5.5 billion deal for the procurement of five regiments of Russian-made S-400 Triumf air defense systems in October.