US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s two-day visit to India begins today. On this tour, he is expected to discuss several important issues. According to the sources, he can discuss many regional and international issues including the security situation in Afghanistan, promoting Indo-Pacific engagement, and dealing with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sources said that both sides will explore ways to intensify cooperation in the field of defence. In addition, India will seek a phased resumption of international travel while maintaining health protocols, especially for easing the mobility of students, professionals, business travellers and for ensuring family reunions, besides humanitarian cases.
He said that India will continue to push for ensuring an uninterrupted supply chain of ingredients used in the production of the Covid-19 vaccine. During the 2-day visit, Blinken will meet External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. Blinken will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sources said that there will be a discussion between India and the US on strengthening the Quad vaccine initiative. Under the framework of the Quad, the Foreign ministerial meeting of the grouping is expected to take place later this year. Both sides will also take forward the quad vaccination campaign so that vaccines can be supplied to the countries of the Indo-Pacific region as early as 2022.
He said that India and the US will also discuss the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan. In the last few weeks, Afghanistan has witnessed a series of terrorist attacks as the US withdrew the majority of its troops. Sources said that the US Secretary of State’s visit will provide an opportunity to strengthen bilateral cooperation in areas such as trade, investment, health care, education, digital sector, innovation, security, and other areas.
He said, “The visit of Foreign Minister Blinken is very important for India and during this time India looks forward to taking forward the dialogue with the US on a variety of issues including bilateral, regional, Covid-19 and global development.” This is Blinken’s first visit to India after taking charge of the US State Department, as well as the second visit by a top administration US official since Joe Biden came to power in January.