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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh speaks to US counterpart to ‘work together more closely’

The two leaders are likely to meet in Washington DC later this year as part of the ‘2+2’ India-US dialogue.

SNS | New Delhi |

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper discussed future steps needed to be taken for India and the United States to work together more closely, during his conversation with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

Esper, who took office last month, had his first conversation with Singh over the telephone on August 20. “We had a very warm conversation. We talked about our mutual strategic interest and discussed some next steps by which we can work together more closely,” Esper told reporters at the Pentagon. However, he did not divulge any further details of the call.

India’s defence minister also tweeted about his conversation with his US counterpart.

Earlier, a spokesperson of the Defence Ministry in New Delhi had said that Esper appreciated the central government’s position that the recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir are an internal matter of India and he hoped that any issue between India and Pakistan would be resolved bilaterally.

Singh had raised the issue of cross-border terrorism with Esper and appreciated the US’ support for India’s effort to maintain peace and stability in the region, the spokesperson had said.

“They exchanged views on a range of issues related to military-to-military cooperation, defence policy, research and development, defence trade, technology and industrial cooperation,” the official had said.

US Secretary of Defence, Mark T Esper also appreciated India’s position on Jammu and Kashmir and said recent developments in the state are an “internal matter of India,” the Defence Ministry said. “The Minister raised the issue of cross-border terrorism affecting India and appreciated U.S. support for India’s efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region. He said that issues relating to Article 370 are an internal matter of India which are aimed at improving growth and economic development, democracy and prosperity for the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” Defence Ministry said in a statement.

The two leaders are likely to meet in Washington DC later this year as part of the ‘2+2’ India-US dialogue. They will be joined by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the strategic talks.