Jaishankar and Blinken discuss global challenges

Updated on Aug 05, 2022 04:19 AM IST

Global and regional challenges, including the economic crisis in Sri Lanka and the fallout of the Ukraine conflict, figured in a meeting between external affairs minister S Jaishankar and his US counterpart Antony Blinken in Cambodia on Thursday.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken with external affairs minister S Jaishankar in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Thursday. (Reuters)
US secretary of state Antony Blinken with external affairs minister S Jaishankar in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Thursday. (Reuters)
By, New Delhi

Global and regional challenges, including the economic crisis in Sri Lanka and the fallout of the Ukraine conflict, figured in a meeting between external affairs minister S Jaishankar and his US counterpart Antony Blinken in Cambodia on Thursday.

The two leaders held talks on the margins of a meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Phnom Penh. The meetings were held against the backdrop of mounting tensions in the Taiwan Strait following massive military drills launched by the Chinese military in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

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Jaishankar tweeted that he had a “warm conversation” with Blinken, during which they discussed the “ever strengthening India-US relationship and the global situation”. There was no official readout from the Indian side on the discussions.

US state department spokesperson Ned Price said the two leaders exchanged views on global and regional issues, including “Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine and the implications it has had on food insecurity around the world”.

The duo also discussed Sri Lanka’s economic crisis and emphasised that the US and India “stand with the people of Sri Lanka and support their aspirations for a return to economic and political stability through democratic and constitutional processes”.

Blinken “condemned the Burmese military regime’s execution of democracy activists”, and the leaders “discussed promoting accountability for the regime’s atrocities as well as our collective efforts to put Burma back on the path to democracy”, Price said.

Shared efforts to promote a free, open, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific also figured in the talks, he said.

Ahead of the talks, Blinken told reporters the meeting was an opportunity to compare notes with one of the closest partners of the US. “We’re both strong proponents of Asean centrality. We have a shared vision together for a free and open Indo-Pacific that we work on in so many different ways every single day,” he said.

Jaishankar subsequently participated in an Asean-India foreign ministers’ meeting. Among the issues discussed at this meeting were “strong convergence” on the Indo-Pacific, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), connectivity, Covid-19, terrorism, cyber security, Ukraine and Myanmar, he said in a tweet without giving details.

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“Digital, health, agriculture, education and green growth will drive our partnership. Act East unfolds steadily,” Jaishankar added.

The external affairs minister also held separate meetings with Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, Vietnam’s foreign minister Bui Thanh Son, Sri Lanka’s foreign minister Ali Sabry and Australian foreign minister Penny Wong.

Jaishankar conveyed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal greetings to Hun Sen and discussed ways to enhance the economic, development, defence and cultural partnership between India and Cambodia.

In his first meeting with Sabry since he recently became foreign minister, Jaishankar reaffirmed “India’s commitment, as a dependable friend and reliable partner, to the economic recovery and well-being of Sri Lanka”.

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