US’s Antony Blinken in India: Afghanistan, Covid, economic recovery on agenda.

The situation in Afghanistan, the Covid-19 response and economic recovery and engagements in the Indo-Pacific are set to dominate US secretary of state Antony Blinken’s meetings with the top Indian leadership on Wednesday.

Blinken, the third senior member of the Biden administration to visit India this year, arrived in the Capital on Tuesday night. He formally began the visit with a civil society roundtable on Wednesday morning.

The secretary of state will kick off his official engagements with a meeting with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. This will be followed by a meet and greet with the staff of the US embassy.

The main engagement for the day will be a meeting between Blinken and his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar, who will host a working lunch for the secretary of state. The two ministers will participate in a joint press interaction before Blinken meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

As Blinken arrived in India on Tuesday, the US said it backs India’s emergence as a leading global power and vital partner to make the Indo-Pacific a region of stability and economic inclusion.

Blinken flew into New Delhi hours after US defense secretary Lloyd Austin accused China of working against the shared principles and interests of the US and its partners across the Indo-Pacific. While the US and its friends are committed to inclusion and freedom of the seas, China had shown “unwillingness to resolve disputes peacefully and respect the rule of law”, he said.

Opposing China’s claim to the majority of the South China Sea, Austin said: “We have also seen aggression against India…destabilizing military activity and other forms of coercion against the people of Taiwan…and genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.”

The US and India are closely coordinating on regional security issues, such as Afghanistan, and are also partnering to strengthen the global Covid-19 response, on issues ranging from addressing infectious disease outbreaks to securing global supply chains.

Besides working to expand cooperation in international organisations, the US will host the fourth 2+2 dialogue of defence and foreign ministers later this year.

Source- Hindustan Times.

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