India, US will work together to end Covid-19 pandemic, supply vaccines to others, says US Secretary of State

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 28, 2021

Blinken, Jaishankar meeting focuses on Covid-19 relief, boosting trade and investment, relaxing travel curbs, Afghanistan situation and the Quad initiative

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

Blinken, on his maiden visit to India after assuming charge, also announced additional support of $25 million from the US government in vaccination efforts across India to strengthen supply chain logistics and train more healthcare workers.

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..,” Blinken said at a joint press meet following his meeting with Jaishankar.

Blinken, who participated in a roundtable with civil society on Wednesday morning, will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi before leaving for Kuwait.

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 of the pandemic. Vaccine manufacturing is an area where things are continuously changing and India and the US will keep working together, Jaishankar said.

The two also discussed travel challenges resulting from Covid-19. “The US has been forthcoming on students. We appreciate the trouble that the State Department and the Embassy has gone to in that regard and I very much hope it will take a sympathetic view on other travellers in the days to come,” Jaishanker said.

On Afghanistan, Blinken said that even as the US has withdrawn its forces from the country, it remained engaged with it. “We are very much engaged in the diplomacy of working to bring parties together to the table for the resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan,” Blinken said.

The US Secretary of State also met National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and discussed issues of global and regional security and the long-term measures to be taken to strengthen bilateral ties.

In response to criticism from countries such as China, which has called Quad an "exclusive clique’’ harming third-party interests, Blinken said 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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