US Defence Secretary James Mattis has attended a joint meeting of India caucuses of both the House of Representatives and the Senate during which measures to enhance defence ties between the two countries were discussed. This is one of the few occasions of a joint bipartisan meeting of the two caucuses and a rare occasion that it was attended by the defence secretary. “Great to have SECDEF Mattis join the bipartisan House and Senate India Caucus meeting,” Congressman Don Bacon tweeted after the meeting. India has the largest country-specific caucus in the House of Representatives.
It is also the only country-specific caucus in the Senate. The Senate India Caucus is co-chaired by Senators John Cornyn and Mark Warner. The House India Caucus is co-chaired by Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and George Holding. This is one of the few occasions of a joint bipartisan meeting of the two caucuses and a rare occasion that it was attended by the Defense Secretary.
The attendance of Mattis, who is pushing for a string defence ties with India, comes ahead of the inaugural 2+2 meeting of Indian and US defence and foreign ministers. “There has never been a moment where our strategic and economic interests were more aligned between our two countries than today. A stronger partnership helps both the US and India,” tweeted Congressman Bacon, who represents Nebraska’s Second Congressional District in the US House of Representatives.
“As co-founder and co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, we met today with US Secretary of Defence James Mattis as part of a bicameral India Caucus discussion on security cooperation and mutual defense interests,” Cornyn said in a tweet. “Great hearing from SecDef Mattis at today’s Senate India Caucus meeting – important insights on the vital role of the US-India relationship to our national security in the Pacific region and at home,” Senator Warner said.
“We discussed efforts to enhance US-India defense cooperation,” Congressman Pete Olson tweeted. The meeting comes at a time when India faces the risk of US sanctions because of a new legislation which restricts countries from buying significant military equipment from Russia. Mattis has sought exemption for several countries including India. In the past several weeks, top officials of the Trump administration has argued against any sanctions against India under CAATSA or Countering America’s Adversaries.