Foreign secy holds meetings with US officials; focus on strategic ties, Ukraine | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Foreign secretary holds meetings with US officials with focus on strategic ties, Ukraine conflict

By, Washington
Nov 09, 2022 02:22 AM IST

In a statement after Vinay Mohan Kwatra's meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that the two discussed a “wide range of issues” on which the US and India are working together “as strategic partners”.

Even as external affairs minister S Jaishankar made his first visit to Moscow since the onset of Russia’s war in Ukraine, foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra on Monday held extensive consultations with senior officials of the Joe Biden administration and discussed the India-US strategic partnership as well as the Ukraine conflict in Washington DC.

Foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra (ANI)
Foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra (ANI)

In a statement after the foreign secretary’s meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that the two discussed a “wide range of issues” on which the US and India are working together “as strategic partners, including economic and security cooperation”.

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This is Kwatra’s first visit to the US since taking over as foreign secretary. The Indian side did not provide an official readout of the meeting

Sherman tweeted that it was great to meet Kwatra to “discuss #USIndia relations and advance our security and regional cooperation throughout the Indo-Pacific region and the world”.

The US readout of the meeting added that Sherman “underscored the U.S. commitment to the people of Ukraine in the face of Russia’s illegal war of aggression”.

While India’s abstentions at the United Nations Security Council on substantive resolutions condemning Russia’s aggression had triggered criticism in the early months of the war, New Delhi’s emphasis on the need for peace and dialogue and ability to speak to all sides in the conflict is now being seen in the West as an advantage in any prospective peace negotiations in the future. Sherman and Kwatra are understood to have shared their assessment of the conflict and its consequences. India has consistently flagged the implications of the war on food, energy, fertiliser security for the global south.

The State Department spokesperson added that Kwatra and Sherman also discussed ways to “improve regional and multilateral coordination, including via the Quad partnership in the Indo-Pacific region”. In both the recently released US national security strategy and the national defence strategy, the Joe Biden administration has highlighted the role of India as a key partner in navigating challenges in the Indo-Pacific in the context of Chinese assertiveness.

The US statement added, “The two reaffirmed our shared commitment to democratic principles, regional security and prosperity, and strengthening people-to-people ties.”

In a tweet, India’s ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu posted a set of pictures of Kwatra at the State Department and pointed to “substantive & extensive engagements”. These included an image of Secretary of State Antony J Blinken greeting Indian officials as well as Kwatra’s meeting with State Department undersecretary of political affairs, Victoria Nuland, who is a key architect of America’s Ukraine policy.

Kwatra also met Uzra Zeya, State Department undersecretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights and special coordinator for Tibetan issues. Zeya tweeted that they discussed “the strong partnership between our democracies”. “The United States looks forward to growing our cooperation in this #SummitForDemocracy #YearOfAction. We are stronger together!”

On Monday evening, Sandhu hosted a reception for Kwatra at India House in DC, where the foreign secretary met a range of senior administration officials from White House and departments of state, defence, treasury, and commerce, among others. Sherman attended the reception.

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    Prashant Jha is the Washington DC-based US correspondent of Hindustan Times. He is also the editor of HT Premium. Jha has earlier served as editor-views and national political editor/bureau chief of the paper. He is the author of How the BJP Wins: Inside India's Greatest Election Machine and Battles of the New Republic: A Contemporary History of Nepal.

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