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Thursday, September 23, 2021

‘India open to engaging those who recognise the value of diversity’

During his visit, Blinken will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. The Ministry of External Affairs said in New Delhi that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval will also meet him.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
Updated: July 26, 2021 11:26:39 am
Antony BlinkenUS Secretary of State Antony J Blinken (File Photo)

A day after Washington announced that Antony J Blinken, the US secretary of state scheduled to arrive for a two-day visit of India on July 27, would raise the issues of human rights and democracy, New Delhi has stated on Sunday said that as a long-standing pluralistic society, India is “open to engaging those who now recognise the value of diversity”.

During his visit, Blinken will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. The Ministry of External Affairs said in New Delhi that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval will also meet him.

Sources in the Indian government said that “issues such as human rights and democracy are universal and extend beyond a particular national or cultural perspective”, and that “India is proud of its achievements in both domains and is always glad to share experiences”.

“As a long-standing pluralistic society, India is open to engaging those who now recognise the value of diversity,” sources said on Sunday, obliquely underlining the polarised and divided nature of society in the US.

On the regional security situation, sources said, “Implications of the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, and the need for sustained pressure on Pakistan on terror financing and terror havens, will be part of the agenda.”

In the defence domain, both sides are expected to explore ways and means to deepen their collaboration. This will cover policy exchanges, exercises, and defence transfers and technologies. These will be covered in greater detail during the fourth 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue due in the US later this year.

Sources said that discussions will cover containment of Covid-19 and Covid-19 recovery efforts. “India will press for gradual resumption of international travel, while maintaining health protocols, especially easing mobility of students, professionals, business travellers, family reunions, humanitarian cases.”, a source said. The need for resilient supply chains of critical medicines and healthcare equipment is likely to come up.

Sources said that discussions on deepening Quad engagement will be a key focus area of talks, with the possibility of a Foreign Ministerial Quad meeting later this year. The talks will also “take forward Quad vaccine initiative to enable supply of vaccines produced in India from early 2022, to countries in Indo-Pacific region”.

The Quad vaccine initiative was earlier scheduled to be launched at the end of 2022, and efforts are now underway to advance it by the end of this year or early next year.

The two sides will also exchange assessments about the Indo-Pacific region, with focus on Covid assistance, economic slowdown and security scenario. Latest developments pertaining to West Asia and Central Asia are also likely to be covered, sources said.

“Climate change remains an important area of our conversation”, the source said, adding that “particularly potential for green collaborations as well as climate finance and transfer of clean technologies to developing countries”.

Sources said that India will also engage with the US on other global issues.

Stressing that “political and cultural rebalancing are important trends”, the source said that India supports a truly multipolar, democratic and diverse world order and expects international conversations to reflect this evolution. “We believe in equity and fairness, whether in development, climate change or global decision-making”, the source said.

Discussions will also cover working together in the UN, especially with India holding the Presidency of the UN Security Council in August 2021, the source said.

This will be Blinken’s first visit to India after assuming charge as the US secretary of state and the third by a high-ranking Biden administration official after it came to power in January, following those of Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in March, and Special Envoy on Climate Change John Kerry in April.

Blinken’s visit reciprocates the visit by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to the US in May 2021. The two leaders have also had detailed conversations this year in the UK (at the G7 meeting) and Italy (at the G20 meeting).

Sources said that India attaches considerable importance to his visit and looks forward to taking forward the conversation with the US on numerous issues, be it bilateral, regional, addressing Covid or global developments.

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