NEW DELHI: US Secretary of Defense nominee Lloyd Austin has said that the Joe Biden administration’s objective would be to elevate defence ties with India.
“If confirmed, my overarching objective for our defense relationship with India would be to continue elevating the partnership,” Austin said while addressing members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing.
Austin, a retired General, said that he would operationalise India’s status as a major defence partner and ensure that the militaries of the two countries can continue to cooperate on shared interests.
“I would also seek to deepen and broaden the defence cooperation between India and the US through the Quad security dialogue and other regional multilateral engagements,” he said.
On Pakistan, the secretary of defense nominee said that Islamabad has taken steps against anti-Indian groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed but the progress has been incomplete. He was also of the opinion that Pakistan has taken constructive steps to meet the US expectations with regard to the Intra-Afghan peace process.“
Many factors in addition to the security assistance suspension may impact Pakistan’s cooperation, including Afghanistan negotiations and the dangerous escalation following the Pulwama terrorist attack,” he said and added that he would press Pakistan to not let allow its soil to be used by terrorists and militants as a sanctuary.
Meanwhile, in a way endorsing the India policy of the Trump administration Secretary of State nominee Tony Blinken told members of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing that “India has been a bipartisan success story of our successive administrations”.