Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that his upcoming visit to New Delhi will be focused on advancing America's "incredibly important" ties with India which is a significant part of President Donald Trump's strategy to advance the shared goal of a "free and open" Indo-Pacific region, where China is flexing its muscles.
Pompeo would leave for New Delhi on June 24, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told reporters on Monday.
New Delhi would be Pompeo's first stop and South Korea his last during the nearly week-long visit to the Indo-Pacific region, beginning June 24, that would also take him to Sri Lanka and Japan.
Before starting his trip, Pompeo will address the India Ideas Summit of US-India Business Council on June 12.
"I'll be speaking to a group of Indian business leaders in preparation for the trip that I'll take in a couple of weeks where I'll be visiting India, an important part of President Trump's strategy in the Indo-Pacific," he told reporters at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the US State Department.
"I'm looking forward to the opportunity both to give the set of remarks about how it is our relationship is so closely tied economically, but also importantly the things that the United States and India can continue to do to build out what is an incredibly important relationship for both countries," Pompeo said.
State Department spokesperson Ortagus said that Pompeo will travel to the Indo-Pacific region from June 24 to June 30 to "broaden and deepen America's partnership with key countries to advance their shared goal of a free and open Indo-Pacific."
"The secretary's first stop will be in New Delhi, India. Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi's recent election victory provides an excellent opportunity for him to implement his vision for a strong and prosperous India that plays a leading role on the global stage," she said.
India, the US, and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China's rising military maneuvering in the region.
China has been trying to expand its military presence in the Indo-Pacific, which is a biogeographic region, comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea.
China claims almost all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the sea.
China has expanded through reclamation or built entirely new man-made islands atop coral reefs and has equipped many of them with military installations and airfields.
Prime Minister Modi during his recent visit to the Maldives underscored India's firm commitment to make the strategic Indo-Pacific an area for shared economic growth, saying it has been "our lifeline, and also the highway for trade and prosperity."
Pompeo will preview elements of a cooperative agenda during his remarks at the India Ideas Summit at the US Chamber of Commerce, State Department spokesperson Ortagus said.
His next stop will be in Colombo, where Pompeo will express America's solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka as they stand united against the despicable Easter Sunday terrorist attacks.
He will also discuss promising opportunities for US-Sri Lanka cooperation based on shared commitments to a free and open Indo-Pacific region, she said.
Pompeo will then travel to Osaka, Japan, to participate in the G20 Leaders' Summit from June 28 -29, the first such gathering hosted by Japan.
On the margins of the summit, Pompeo will join Trump in meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to coordinate "on the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea", and discuss ways to strengthen trilateral cooperation with South Korea on "our unified approach towards North Korea" and other shared challenges, she said.
Following the G20 Summit, Pompeo will accompany Trump to South Korea to meet with President Moon Jae-in.
"The two leaders will also discuss ways to strengthen the United States-Republic of Korea alliance. President Trump and President Moon will continue their close coordination on efforts to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearisation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," Ortagus said.