Austin visits India with China high on agenda
India is a key US ally in the region and the visit comes hot on the heels of frosty first talks between Secretary of State Antony Blinken with top Chinese officials in Alaska.
Prior to that, Austin and Blinken visited Japan and South Korea.
The two-day visit to New Delhi will see Austin meet PM Narendra Modi, a senior US official said, as well as Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Ajit Doval, a national security adviser.
As well as deadly clashes on the border, Beijing has irked New Delhi with its support for arch-rival Pakistan, as have Chinese investments in Indian Ocean nations such as Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Nepal. India and China have also engaged in a tussle of "vaccine diplomacy", competing to supply other countries with coronavirus shots to secure goodwill and influence.
In 2016, the United States designated India as a "Major Defense Partner", and they have since signed a string of deals easing the transfer of advanced weaponry and deepening military cooperation.