US Secretary of State visits India, discusses India-US relations, Quad and other key areas; Check details
During his visit to India, the US Secretary of State touched upon various regional and global issues and emphasized on growing India-US relations stronger. The other strategic areas, during the talks, covered Quad, troops withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the pandemic. Check the highlights below.
The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on July 28, 2021, met PM Modi, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and NSA Ajit Doval for the discussions. He was on a visit to India on July 27-28, 2021 for the first time after assuming office.
The meet was crucial as it came at a time when the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan may have sent the country into a Civil War and when China has become an acute challenge for both the US and India.
During the talks, Blinken attached great importance to the relationship between India and the US and assured that it will continue to be stronger under the Biden administration.
The US Secretary of State also focused on Afghanistan, Quad Vaccine, and the determination to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
The visit by the US State Secretary was the continuance of high-level visits from the Biden Administration after the visits by the US Special Envoy on Climate Change Jon Kerry in April 2021 and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in March 2021.
Blinken meeting with PM Modi
US Secretary of State met PM Modi on July 28, 2021, during his visit to India. Prime Minister Modi, during the meeting, welcomed President Biden's strong commitment to strengthening the relationship between India and the US.
PM Modi also tweeted about the meeting and said that both the countries share democratic values and are a force for global good.
Good to meet US Secretary of State @SecBlinken today. I welcome President Biden's strong commitment to strengthen the India-US Strategic Partnership, which is anchored in our shared democratic values and is a force for global good. pic.twitter.com/HlNqKVTM95— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 28, 2021
US State Secretary’s visit to India: Key Points
Various global and regional issues were touched upon during Blinken's visit to India where he met EAM S Jaishankar, PM Modi, and NSA Ajit Doval. After his discussion with Jaishankar, during a joint press conference, Blinken talked about some significant strategic areas.
1. US determined to grow stronger ties with India-
US Secretary of State, during his visit to India, expressed Biden administration's intent of growing stronger bilateral relations with India and also stressed the importance of cooperation on various issues such as COVID-19 and Climate Change.
He added that in the last couple of decades the relations between the two countries have grown stronger and deeper across multiple administrations in both countries. Blinken emphasized that the partnership will be critical to delivering stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.
2. US to remain engaged in Afghanistan despite the troop withdrawal
While talking about the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, Blinken said that the US will remain engaged in the country. At the end of the talks with his counterpart EAM S Jaishankar, Blinken mentioned that the US not only has a strong embassy there but also has significant programmes that support the country economically through security assistance and development.
Taking over the country by force and abusing the rights of the people is not the path to achieve those objectives. There is only one path and that is at the negotiation table to resolve the conflict peacefully: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in New Delhi (1/2) pic.twitter.com/DQxTAGqBBu— ANI (@ANI) July 28, 2021
Blinken was responding to the concern towards the ongoing violence in Afghanistan, as the Taliban invades the cities leading to the deteriorating conditions in the country.
3. Democracy is work in progress
Regarding the Indian Government's stand on human rights matters, Blinken said that every democracy is a work in progress and that the challenges it faces, renews, and strengthens the democracies. He added that both India and the US can learn from each other regardless of how old or large it is. While speaking about India's Human Rights record, he said that no democracy regardless of how old or large it is has it all figured out.
We talk about in our founding document, search for a more perfect union that means that we are not perfect. Our quest is to get closer to the ideals we set for ourselves. At times, the challenge is painful & ugly, but as democracies, we do it openly: US Secy of State pic.twitter.com/0YLutqoMcp— ANI (@ANI) July 28, 2021
4. India-US determined to end pandemic through Quad Vaccine partnership
The US secretary of State said that both India and the US are determined to end the deadly pandemic together with the Quad vaccine partnership. He said that both the countries will be the world leaders to bring this pandemic to an end and the focus is on expanding the vaccine production to make it globally accessible and affordable.
5. Quad is not a military alliance
Blinken while about the strategic dialogue between India, the US, Japan, and Australia, said that it is not a military alliance rather its purpose is to advance the cooperation on the regional challenges while also reinforcing the international rules and values that underpin prosperity, peace, and stability in the region.
Quad is not a military alliance. Its purpose is to advance cooperation on regional challenges while reinforcing international rules and values that we believe together underpin peace, proseparity, stability in the region: US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken in Delhi https://t.co/F3TbbEvlsT— ANI (@ANI) July 28, 2021
On the issue of the formation of Quad, Blinken clarified that four like-minded countries are coming together to work on some significant issues that are going to impact the lives of the people.
US announces $25 million for India's vaccination programme
The US Secretary of State, during his first visit to India, announced an additional $25 million, through US AID, in order to support India's COVID-19 vaccination prpgramme. US has already contributed more than 200 million dollars of COVID-19 assistance and the announced help will be in an addition to that.
I'm proud to announce an additional $25 million from the US government, through US AID, to support India’s COVID-19 vaccination program, tweets US Secretary of State Antony Blinken pic.twitter.com/ob3Uhb3lOA— ANI (@ANI) July 28, 2021
Other areas on priority
During Antony Blinken’s two-day visit to India, discussions on deepening the Quad engagement are also expected to be the key focus area, with the possibility of a Foreign Ministerial Quad Meeting later in 2021.
India and the United States will also take forward the Quad vaccine initiative in order to enable the supply of the vaccines produced in India from early 2022 to the nations in the Indo-Pacific region.
Massive Violence in Afghanistan:
Massive violence in Afghanistan will be the central issue, the need for sustained pressure on Pakistan on terror financing, implications of the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan and terror havens will also be part of the agenda
Both India and the US will exchange assessments about the Indo-Pacific region, with a focus on the economic slowdown, COVID assistance, and the security scenario. The latest developments taking place in Central and West Asia are also likely to be covered.
It remains an important area of conversation between India and the US, particularly the potential for green collaborations as well as climate finance and the transfer of clean technologies to developing nations.
Other global issues:
Political and cultural rebalancing, India’s support to multipolar, democratic, and diverse world order, equity and fairness, whether in climate change, development or global decision-making will also come up.
India’s presidency at UN:
The talks will also cover working together in the United Nations, particularly with India holding the presidency of the United Nations Security Council in August 2021.
EAM Jaishankar’s visit to the US:
The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit reciprocates the visit by the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to the US in May 2021.
The two leaders also had detailed conversations this year in the UK (at the G7 Meeting) and Italy (at the G20 Meeting).