India-US Talks: Afghanistan, China, QUAD and Indo-Pacific on the agenda next week

By: |
July 24, 2021 4:23 PM

The growing aggression of Taliban after the US Troops left, the Indo-Pacific and the QUAD, the ongoing Indo-China standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) are some of the critical issues that are expected to be discussed during the US Secretary’s various meetings in New Delhi.

A statement from the US Department of State says , “The agenda includes a wide range of issues including shared regional security interests, cooperation on COVID-19 response efforts; climate crisis, and shared democratic values.”

The second top official in the Biden administration US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken is visiting India early next week. The two day visit from July 27-28 is the first to Delhi after taking charge earlier this year as the Secretary State.

The Agenda

The growing aggression of Taliban after the US Troops left, the Indo-Pacific and the QUAD, the ongoing Indo-China standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) are some of the critical issues that are expected to be discussed during the US Secretary’s various meetings in New Delhi.

The Ministry of External Affairs and the US Statement Department on late Friday evening simultaneously announced Secretary Blinken’s visit next week.

After his meetings in New Delhi, the US Secretary will be travelling to Kuwait.

In New Delhi apart from his meeting with his Indian counterpart Dr S Jaishankar, he will be calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will also meet with the National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval.

According to the official statement issued by MEA, “Both sides will review the robust and multifaceted relations between the two countries.”

“The US Secretary’s visit is an “opportunity to continue the high-level bilateral dialogue and bolster the India-US global strategic partnership,” the statement said.

How many times have the US Secretary met External Affairs Minister

Since taking up the office earlier this year, both have met three times. The first meeting was on the sidelines of the G7 Foreign Ministers meeting in the UK; then the minister’s bilateral visit to the US; and then they both met in Italy on the sidelines of the G20 Foreign Ministers meeting.

A statement from the US Department of State says , “The agenda includes a wide range of issues including shared regional security interests, cooperation on COVID-19 response efforts; climate crisis, and shared democratic values.”

Though it is not confirmed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to travel to the US for the UNGA and a possible QUAD in-person meeting in Washington DC. As reported earlier the QUAD had their first virtual meeting recently which was called by the US President Joe Biden with the leaders of Australia, Japan and India.

India is critical partner in the region

On Friday evening during a briefing in Washington DC, Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Dean Thompson described India as a “critical partner in the region” as both the countries have a “shared interest in a stable and secure Afghanistan”.

Briefing the local media there, Mr Thomson said that the focus of the discussions will be on “Expanding our defense and security, cyber, and counterterrorism cooperation.”

Also, on the agenda, Afghanistan will be at the top as Taliban is gaining more ground in that country, therefore the impact of the situation on the Central Asian countries. Iran and the sanctions imposed by the US are going to be discussed too.

On the growing violence in Afghanistan, India on its part has been engaging with the US officials at various levels. A meeting between external affairs minister Jaishankar and Deputy NSA Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, followed by a meeting with the US Special Representative on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad on the sidelines of the Connectivity Summit in Uzbekistan.

QUAD

The first ever in-person meeting of the QUAD countries is scheduled to take place in DC. Therefore, the meeting next week could also be seen as a preparation for the QUAD summit to be hosted by the US.

In an earlier virtual meeting all the members of the QUAD had agreed on a shared vision for the region that’s inclusive of: “health, respect for human rights, where sovereignty is safe guarded and it’s free and open.”

According to Mr Thompson, “With India and other friends and partners in the region, the US is working to advance this shared vision of the Indo-Pacific”.

COVID & Vaccine Initiative

The global pandemic of COVID-19 remains on the agenda of talks since March 2020. The US had recently sent assistance to India when there was a surge during the second wave. Since last year the US has sent COVID aid worth $226 million, and there has been a USD 400 million contributed by the US companies based in India as well the citizens of that country.

The outcome of the virtual leadership meeting earlier this year in March was Quad vaccine partnership and the plan is to roll out a billion doses of vaccines from India, which is going to be the manufacturing base.

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