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Transcript

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Opening Remarks at a U.S.-India 2+2 Joint Press Availability

April 11, 2022

SECRETARY AUSTIN:  Thanks, Secretary Blinken. Well, Secretary Blinken, Minister Singh, Minister Jaishankar, it’s great to be here with you for this fourth U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. As my friend Secretary Blinken has rightly noted, we’re meeting at an important moment in our partnership. It’s been nearly two decades since we signed our first bilateral defense framework, and our partnership has grown immensely ever since.

Today’s meeting shows that we’re working together to build one of the most consequential partnerships of our time. We’ve made important commitments today that will drive technological innovation and cooperation in emerging defense domains, including space and cyberspace. For example, we’re committed to launching new defense base exchanges later this year between our Space Command and India’s Defense Space Agency. And I’m pleased to announce that just a few moments ago, we signed a bilateral Space Situational Awareness arrangement, and this will support greater information sharing and cooperation in space.

We’re also deepening our cooperation in cyberspace, including through training and exercises later this year. And we’re expanding our information-sharing partnership across all warfighting domains. And meanwhile, our defense trade and technology cooperation continues to grow. We recently concluded an agreement to work together on air-launched unmanned aerial vehicles through our Defense Technology and Trade Initiative. And today we agreed to launch new supply chain cooperation measures that will let us more swiftly support each other’s priority defense requirements. India continues to acquire key U.S. defense platforms, and that is forging important and new ties between our defense industrial bases.

We’re doing all this because the United States supports India as a defense industry leader in the Indo-Pacific and a net provider of security in the region. And we all understand the challenges that we face there. The People’s Republic of China is seeking to refashion the region and the international system more broadly in ways that serve its interests. And so I’m pleased that we’ve identified new opportunities to extend the operational reach of our militaries and to coordinate more closely together across the expanse of the Indo-Pacific.

We welcome the Indian navy’s decision to join the Combined Maritime Forces, Bahrain, and we’ve also committed to more high-end exercises together. Last summer the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group conducted the first-ever combined anti-submarine warfare and air exercise with the Indian navy and air force. And we’re looking forward to more of this sort of cooperation as we expand the scope and the complexity of Tiger Triumph, which is our annual major tri-service exercise.

And finally, we made commitments today to reinforce our ties with like-minded countries, including Japan, Australia, and our European allies and partners. Take, for example, the Quad’s newly launched humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mechanism, which will bring together our defense and civil disaster – and civilian disaster relief agencies to ensure that the Indo-Pacific is better prepared for future crises.

Now, as two of the world’s largest democracies, the United States and India are linked by more than our common interests. We’re bound by our shared values and commitments, including ensuring that the Indo-Pacific stays on a path defined by the rule of law and freedom of the seas and respect for territorial integrity of sovereign states.

Today’s 2+2 ministerial reflects our deep commitment to maintaining open channels of communication on a range of challenging issues. As strategic threats converge, especially following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is more important than ever that we stand together to defend our shared values and to preserve the international rules-based order.

And so I believe that the investments that we’ve made together today will help to ensure that our shared vision of a secure, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region thrives in the decades ahead. Ministers, thank you for your partnership and for your leadership as we work together to build that future. It’s great to have you with us – here with us, so thank you very much.

A full transcript of the joint press availability is available at https://www.state.gov/secretary-antony-j-blinken-secretary-of-defense-lloyd-austin-indian-minister-of-external-affairs-dr-s-jaishankar-and-indian-minister-of-defense-rajnath-singh-at-a-joint-press-availability/