Free and open: on U.S. Defence Secretary's visit to India

Austin’s visit is significant for bilateral ties, and cooperation on Indo-Pacific and Afghanistan

Top U.S. lawmakers welcome Defence Secretary Austin’s maiden visit to India

While Mr. Austin made it clear the Biden Administration is committed to CAATSA sanctions against all countries procuring high-value Russian military hardware, he said that the determination on India would only come after New Delhi takes delivery of the S-400 missile system. He confirmed that he had raised the issue of human rights in India, but added that these are part of conversations any two democracies would share, a sentiment seconded by the MEA. Finally, while officials said they discussed India’s challenge from China, Mr. Austin was careful not to make any direct reference to Beijing or about the LAC dispute, which New Delhi considers a bilateral issue. The omission, in contrast to his comments in Tokyo and Seoul, signalled both that New Delhi desired discretion on the issue, and that the U.S. Defence Secretary was sensitive to his host’s wish.

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