EAM S Jaishankar heads to the US; Vaccines and other bilateral issues on the agenda

By: |
May 21, 2021 2:30 PM

Announcing the visit of the external affairs minister S Jaishankar, an official release of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said that the visit is from May 24-28, 2021. And he will be visiting New York and meeting with the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

s jaishankarThe visit also comes ahead of the next round of 2+2 Ministerial Level talks which is expected to take place later this year in Washington DC. (Twitter/@DrSJaishankar)

Next week, the external affairs minister is visiting the US where the focus of talks with various officials of the Biden administration will be on bilateral relations, as well COVID related cooperation between the two countries.

Ministry of External Affairs announces the visit

Announcing the visit of the external affairs minister S Jaishankar, an official release of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said that the visit is from May 24-28, 2021. And he will be visiting New York and meeting with the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The minister when in Washington DC will meet with his counterpart Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Topping the agenda would be the COVID related cooperation, as well as a wide range of issues of mutual interest. He will also be meeting with other Cabinet members as well as senior officials of the Biden administration.

On the agenda of his visit to the US are two interactions with business forums on economic & COVID-related cooperation between the two countries.

The business forum meetings will focus on how the two countries can work together to fight the surge in COVID-19 cases in India as well as vaccine production in India. According to reports, the external affairs minister will be meeting with top executives of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The meeting with the company representatives is expected to take place in Washington DC as well as New York City.

This is the minister’s first visit to the US after the Biden administration has come into power. However, this is second meeting with his US counterpart Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, whom he had met on the sidelines of the G-7 ministerial meeting earlier this month in London.

In the weekly briefing on Thursday (May 20, 2021), the official spokesperson of MEA, Arindam Bagchi had said, “India remains engaged with US entities on the prospects of procuring vaccines from there. And also, to manufacture them in India eventually. This will help in augmenting India’s vaccine availability.”

Mr Bagchi had also said that all the vaccines coming from abroad need to be as per India’s regulatory guidelines. This also includes the vaccines coming from the US, they will have to be approved by FDA (Food and Drug Agency) for product quality.

The US has announced that it will share around 80 million stockpiled doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with the rest of the world.

The minister is also expected to discuss the ban which the US imposed on the export of vaccine ingredients or raw materials which is critical for manufacturing here in India. The US had imposed the ban under the “Defence Production Act”.

What is expected to be discussed?

The Biden Administration has already lifted the ban and India has received raw material required for the production of 20 million doses of the Covishield at the Serum Institute of India. The concern remains.

The visit also comes ahead of the next round of 2+2 Ministerial Level talks which is expected to take place later this year in Washington DC.

Also, the first batch of the Russian S-400 Triumf ‘SA-21 Growler’ air defence systems is expected to be delivered later this year. Though no set date has been announced, sources have confirmed that it will arrive towards the end of 2021. US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in an interaction with limited media earlier this year had mentioned that the issue of S-400 was raised but sanctions were not discussed.

The ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel too is expected to be on the table for discussions between the two sides in DC.

During various meetings a free and open Indo Pacific, and means to contain Chinese aggression; working together in the QUAD as well as with other South Asian countries to deal with China.

Also there will be discussions on the US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan.

And relations between the two countries in science and technology, supply chains, and other sectors could be discussed.

Relief Received from the US so far

So far India has received COVID-19 assistance from the US to the amount of $ 500 million and this includes contributions from the federal and state governments, US based companies and organizations and also private citizens. This information was shared by the White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki with the members of the White House Foreign Press Group in a virtual press conference call.

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