US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in New Delhi on Monday, kicking off a four-country Asia tour that he has said will focus on the “threats” posed by China.
Joined by Defense Secretary Mark Esper for the two-day visit, Pompeo will hold top-level talks following a spike in tensions between India and China since a deadly border clash in June.
India has sought US cold weather equipment as the showdown goes into the freezing Himalayan winter and officials said this could be raised when Pompeo and Esper meet India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh.
The world’s two biggest democracies are expected to sign an agreement on sharing geo-spatial intelligence, paving the way for the United States to ship sophisticated missile technology, officials said.
Esper will also be discussing ways to increase cooperation between the two countries’ military forces.
This could include intelligence sharing, stepping up joint exercises, and arms sales — including possibly US F-18 fighter jets.
Pompeo will go on from India to Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia, all of which have a key role in Indian Ocean maritime traffic where China has cast a greater shadow.
The secretary of state said ahead of the trip that his meetings would “include discussions on how free nations can work together to thwart threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party”.