Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin

New Delhi: US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin's statement that he had a conversation with Cabinet ministers about human rights was faced counter by the government sources who said that there was no such discussion.

High-level Indian sources confirm that there was no discussion of human rights in India with US Defence Secretary, ANI reported.

"In fact, human rights & values were mentioned as shared attributes. The only mention of minorities was by the EAM in the context of Afghanistan," the source reportedly said.

Earlier, Austin was asked by mediapersons about his discussion on "violations of human rights especially against Muslim minorities in the northeast". He said that he did not have an opportunity to talk about it with Prime Minister Narendra Modi but he had a conversation with other members of the cabinet on this issue.

Llyod added that the US values India’s partnership. “I think partners need to be able to have those kinds of discussions. And certainly we feel comfortable doing that. And you can have those discussions in a very meaningful way and make progress," he added.

Speaking after a meeting with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh in New Delhi, Austin said that the partnership between the United States and India remains resilient and strong despite today’s challenging security environment.

"Our relationship is a stronghold of free and open Indo-Pacific region. PM Modi stated India stands for freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce in adherence to international law. This reaffirms our shared vision for regional security," Austin said.

"India is an increasingly important partner in rapidly shifting international dynamics. I reaffirm our commitment to a comprehensive forward-looking defense partnership with India as a central pillar of our approach to the Indo-Pacific region," he said.

The Pentagon chief said that during his meeting with Rajnath, he discussed engagement with like-minded partners through multilateral groupings like Quad and ASEAN. "As Indo-Pacific region faces acute transnational challenges and challenges to a free &open regional order, cooperation among like-minded countries is imperative," he said in a join statement with Rajnath.

Rajnath expressed similar sentiments and said he had an excellent meeting with Austin.

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