Washington/New Delhi: US Navy chief Admiral John Richardson has said that his recent visit to India was a “critical opportunity” to strengthen ties between the two navies and sharing views on a multilateral approach in maintaining maritime domain awareness in the strategic Indo-Pacific region. Richardson, who was on a three-day visit to India, met his Indian counterpart Admiral Sunil Lanba and other senior officers and discussed joint exercises between the two navies amid rising Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region. “This visit provided a critical opportunity to strengthen the partnership between the Indian Navy and the US Navy,” a US Navy press release quoted him as saying after his visit ended on Tuesday. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra Singh”The two heads of navy also discussed the strategic importance of growing the two navies’ partnership and the need to focus on information sharing and exchange. They also discussed their shared view on a multilateral approach in maintaining maritime domain awareness in the Indo-Pacific region,”the release said. “Our mutual commitment and shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific enables even more opportunities for the future. We took the opportunity during the visit to discuss specific steps that will set the stage for further cooperation between our two navies,” he said. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroadChina has been trying to spread its influence in the resource-rich Indo-Pacific region. To counter Beijing, the US has been pushing for a broader role by India in the strategically important region. 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, which is a large swathe of land and sea stretching all the way from the west coast of the US to the shores of east Africa.