New Delhi [India], Mar 21 (ANI): Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday held a telephonic conversation with his US counterpart Mark Esper during which the Secretary of Defense expressed his appreciation for India's leadership in coordinating COVID-19 related relief efforts among South Asian countries.
Esper also conveyed his intent to visit India at the earliest opportunity.
In a tweet, Rajnath Singh said: "We also reviewed the progress in bilateral defence cooperation as a part of India-US comprehensive global strategic partnership. India and the United States are committed to further deepen and strengthen the defence cooperation."
The US Secretary of Defense too stated that he looked forward to the growing partnership between two countries.
"Had a productive phone call with Indian DefMin Rajnath Singh to discuss ongoing efforts to respond to the #COVID19 pandemic, along with other defense cooperation activities. I look forward to the growing partnership between our two nations," Esper tweeted.
The US Department of Defense said in a readout that during the telephonic conversation, the two leaders discussed "bilateral defence priorities, including ongoing regional cooperation and initiatives to enhance military-to-military engagement and defence trade".
"They also discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and underscored their commitment to close communication during this period in order to maintain momentum on initiatives that reinforce our comprehensive global partnership. Secretary Esper expressed his appreciation for India's leadership in coordinating COVID-19 related relief efforts among South Asian countries, and conveyed his intent to visit India at the earliest opportunity," it said.
The Indian Defence Ministry said the two Defence Ministers reviewed the progress in bilateral and multilateral defence co-operation and agreed to expand military-to-military engagements and defence trade and industry as part of India-US comprehensive global strategic partnership.
"The two Ministers exchanged views on the grave situation arising out of COVID-19 and expressed confidence that through open communication and mutual support, the world can overcome the pandemic. Both the Ministers agreed to remain in touch during this trying period," the Defence Ministry said.
Singh "briefed Secretary Esper about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's initiative to coordinate COVID-19 relief efforts in South Asia".
The Ministry said Singh invited Secretary Esper to visit India at the earliest convenient date. (ANI)