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The US Secretary of Defense is on a mission to strengthen ties with India

 US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin traveled to New Delhi on Friday for talks aimed at strengthening security ties, carrying a letter from a senior senator urging him to inform India of Washington’s objection to its plans to purchase Russian air defense systems.


This is the first visit to India by a senior official under President Joe Biden's administration, and it is part of efforts to form a coalition aimed at countering the expansion of China's influence in the region.


During the Austin visit, the two sides will discuss India's plan to purchase armed drones from the United States as well as a large order for more than 150 fighters for the Air Force and Navy to reduce the gap with China, according to people familiar with the matter.


One thorny issue expected to be raised is India's intention to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems that could attract sanctions under US law. Washington has imposed sanctions on Turkey for purchasing these systems.


Bob Menandez, chair of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asked Austin to explain to India that the Biden administration was objecting to the deal.