‘India and US will work together to end Covid’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 28, 2021

US Secretary of State Blinken meets Modi, Jaishankar, Doval

India and the US will work together to end the Covid-19 pandemic, including through the Quad (US, India, Australia and Japan) vaccine partnership, which will bring effective vaccines to others across the region, said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday.

Blinken, on his maiden visit to India after assuming charge, announced $25-million additional support by the US government in vaccination efforts across India, and held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister S Jaishanker and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, on strengthening bilateral cooperation in areas ranging from trade and investment to climate change and defence.

“Good to meet US Secretary of State Blinken 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,” Modi tweeted after meeting Blinken.

Issues discussed

In his meeting with Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar, the two discussed wide-ranging issues, including expanding vaccine production, relaxing travel restrictions, combating climate change, and strengthening ties in defence, mutual security, trade and investment, education, energy, science and technology.

“We are determined to end this pandemic, and India and the US will work together to do it, including through the Quad vaccine partnership, which will bring safe and effective vaccines to others across the region. India and the US together will be leaders in bringing this pandemic to an end and setting up a stronger global health security system..,” said Blinken at a press meet following his meeting with Jaishankar.

Economic recovery

Stressing on the need for economic recovery, Blinken said India and the US should keep growing their trade relationship. “Beyond that we have to keep working through the barriers that stand in the way of greater bilateral investments and deeper commercial ties. We talked about it today. If we create the right conditions for more trade and investments and innovations, there is no limit to what our private sectors can achieve together,” he said.

Jaishankar thanked the Biden administration for keeping the vaccine raw material supply chains open and for the support India received during the second wave. Vaccine manufacturing is an area where things are continuously changing, and India and the US will keep working together, said Jaishankar.

The two also discussed travel challenges resulting from Covid. “The US has been forthcoming on students. We appreciate the trouble that the State Department and the Embassy had gone to in that regard, and I very much hope it will take a sympathetic view on other travellers in the days to come,” said Jaishanker.

On Afghanistan, Blinken said that even as the US withdrew its forces from the country, it will continue to remain engaged with it. “We have not only a strong embassy there, but also have important programmes that support the country economically through development and security assistance...We are very much engaged in the diplomacy of working to bring parties together at the table for the resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan,” said Blinken.

In response to criticism from countries such as China on Quad, which called it an “exclusive clique” harming third-party interests, Blinken pointed out that it was 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, prosperity and stability in the region,” he said.

Published on July 28, 2021

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