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Monday, May 10, 2021

In first in-person meeting, Jaishankar, Blinken discuss Covid challenge

While this was Jaishankar’s first in-person meeting with Blinken, they have worked closely together in their previous capacities. Sources said the two had “in depth discussion on the Covid challenge and the immediate requirements of India”.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
Updated: May 4, 2021 7:09:56 am
In first in-person meeting, Jaishankar, Blinken discuss Covid challengeExternal Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in London, on Monday. This is their first ever in-person meeting since Joe Biden took over as the US President. (Twitter/@DrSJaishankar)

EXTERNAL AFFAIRS Minister S Jaishankar met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in London in their first in-person meeting ever since the Joe Biden administration took charge in January this year. Both are in London to attend the G-7 foreign ministers’ meeting, where India has been invited as a guest country.

Jaishankar and Blinken have spoken at least four times in the past three months, twice in the last fortnight and once at the Quad foreign ministers’ meeting through video-conferencing.

“Good to meet in person my old friend @SecBlinken. Detailed discussion on the global Covid challenge, focussing on expanded vaccine production capacity and reliable supply chains,” Jaishankar tweeted.

“Expressed appreciation for the strong US support to India at this difficult time, especially oxygen and Remdesivir,” he said. Their meeting also covered other issues such as Indo-Pacific, UN Security Council, Myanmar and climate change, he said.

While this was Jaishankar’s first in-person meeting with Blinken, they have worked closely together in their previous capacities.

Sources said the two had “in depth discussion on the Covid challenge and the immediate requirements of India”. Blinken “assured Jaishankar that the US was monitoring developments closely and would respond positively to any Indian requirements”, sources said, adding that the next shipment from the US will be landing soon.

Sources said that oxygen and related equipment will continue to be key priority. The US has also acted on India’s request for more remdesivir, sources said.

The ministers discussed how greater Indian vaccine production can address both India’s own needs and the requirement of global public health. India and US will collaborate bilaterally, in Quad format and through multilateral initiatives.

They exchanged views on the Indo-Pacific strategic landscape and the conversation brought out the convergence of interests. They reviewed the progress in practical cooperation in recent months.

Their conversation covered the agenda before the UNSC and other multilateral organisations. They were in “agreement that it was in mutual interest to work together”, sources said.

They also noted that climate action and clean energy can be areas of cooperation. “Early operationalization of the 2030 Clean Energy Agenda was important,” sources said.

The situation in Myanmar also came up and the discussion centred on the ASEAN 5-point plan and its further progress.

The ministers looked forward at a further conversation at the G7 plus Guests meeting starting Tuesday.

Jaishankar and Blinken last spoke on April 30, the day US aircraft landed with the first consignment from the US – 440 oxygen cylinders with regulators, 210 pulse oximeters, 8.84 lakh Abbott Rapid Diagnostic Test Kits, and 84,000 N-95 face masks. Earlier, they had also spoken on April 19, when they discussed “issues pertaining to health cooperation”.

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