Agency Bangkok: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday held a series of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand with a focus on deepening ties. The bilateral meetings took place on the sidelines of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus), a platform comprising ASEAN and its eight dialogue partners including India. Apart from his bilateral meetings with US Secretary of Defence Mark T Esper, Japanese Defence Minister Taro Kono, Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and New Zealand’s Defence Minister Ron Mark, he also had deliberations with Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand General Prawit Wongsuwan. Singh reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral defence relations with the respective leaders and discussed ways to further improving the ties, an official statement said. It was Singh’s first meeting with US Secretary of Defence. “Both the leaders expressed satisfaction over the increasing defence engagements between the two countries and looked forward to meeting again for the 2+2 meeting in Washington DC later next month,” the statement said. Singh also discussed the regional security situation and shared with Esper India’s vision and perspective on the Indo-Pacific, it said. In his meeting with General Prawit, he discussed wide-range of issues pertaining to bilateral relations between India and Thailand.
Singh complimented the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand for the successful conduct of activities during the year as the chair of ADMM-Plus and ASEAN for 2019.
He also apprised General Prawit about the Act East policy of the government and the centrality of ASEAN in the Indo-Pacific policy.
Singh’s meeting with the Japanese Defence Minister was also his first with the leader.
“Both of them will meet again in New Delhi for the 2+2 meeting scheduled later this month. Both the leaders had a detailed discussion on adding further momentum to India-Japan defence cooperation,” the statement said.
They expressed satisfaction over the defence engagements and exercises between the Armed Forces, it said.
Singh also met his counterparts from Australia and New Zealand and discussed ongoing defence cooperation and potential areas for enhanced engagement. The Australia Defence Minister is likely to visit New Delhi early next year during the Raisina dialogue.
The ADMM-Plus meeting will be held tomorrow in which Defence Ministers of 18 ADMM-Plus countries will take part.
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