US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent two-day trip to India concluded July 29. It was the third visit by a US official since Joe Biden became president and Blinken’s first as Secretary of State under President Biden. In his visit, he met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar, discussing bilateral solid strategic partnerships and multilateral issues. Blinken is the 5th most crucial high-ranking official in the US government.
Blinken and Jaishankar exchanged interests in deepening US-India relations in various aspects, including defence, trade and investment, security, science and technology, and efforts against climate change.
One of the main topic matters exchanged was regarding regional security and the declining state of Afghanistan. The Taliban was recognized as a major regional threat as aggression escalates, and the terroristic military organization seize control over new territories in the country. Jaishankar also underlined the heightening expansion of the US-India alliance under Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) alongside Japan and Australia.
The US mentioned India as an emerging power and a vital partner in maintaining stability and economic inclusion in the region. They have also highlighted that Human Rights and Democracy are universal and shared values between both countries. Blinken has asserted fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of press and religion, and the rule of law is the foundation of all democracies and necessitated importance and respect. Prior to the talks, in March, the US Secretary of Defense raised concerns over the worsening quality of democracy in India.
Blinken also met with Ngodup Dongchung, the representative of Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), who serves as the exiled Tibetan Government. The meeting met with strong opposition from China. Its foreign ministry has accused the US of ‘interfering in China’s internal affairs’ and emphasized the violation of the US’ acknowledgement of Tibet as a part of China.
COVID-19 was also one of the major talking points during the meeting. Blinken has declared to provide an additional $25 million in support of India’s vaccination production and rollout drive in an effort to boost cooperation in COVID-19 response. They intend to make vaccines globally affordable and accessible. Jaishankar has stated travel issues due to the deteriorating pandemic situation in India was also considered.
At the US embassy event, Blinken announced 68,000 student visa interviews would take place by the end of August. He has departed for Kuwait to further strengthen ties, appreciating the country as a key ‘mediator and facilitator of cooperation in the Middle East.