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Sunday, Sep 15, 2019

S Jaishankar meets US official, discusses ties

A delegation led by US deputy secretary of state John Sullivan and including the Trump administration’s point person for South Asia, Alice Wells, met external affairs minister S Jaishankar to take stock of bilateral ties and issues of mutual interest such as the Indo-Pacific, the people said.

india Updated: Aug 17, 2019 00:47 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during the launch of MEA Performance Smartboard, at Jawahar Lal Nehru Bhavan, in New Delhi.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar during the launch of MEA Performance Smartboard, at Jawahar Lal Nehru Bhavan, in New Delhi.(Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)
         

India and the US on Friday discussed the road map for future engagements, including a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump, and regional issues such as the situation in Afghanistan and Kashmir, people familiar with developments said.

A delegation led by US deputy secretary of state John Sullivan and including the Trump administration’s point person for South Asia, Alice Wells, met external affairs minister S Jaishankar to take stock of bilateral ties and issues of mutual interest such as the Indo-Pacific, the people said.

There was no official readout from both sides on the meeting though the people cited above described the discussions as “very good” and “positive”. Jaishankar tweeted that the two sides had discussed the “deep convergences of our strategic relationship”.

Upcoming engagements, including the Modi-Trump meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly in September, and a “mini 2+2” meeting of officials from the foreign and defence ministries of the two sides to be held in California figured in the discussions, the people said.

A planned 2+2 meeting between the foreign and defence ministers of India and the US, now expected to be held only after the UN General Assembly, was also discussed, the people said.

India’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu & Kashmir and split the state into two Union Territories also figured in the discussions, and the US side expressed some concerns about the communication blackout and restrictions in the region, the people said.

The Indian side reiterated its position that the changes were a purely internal matter and that they were aimed at good governance and speeding up the development of Kashmir, they added.

The US has already said that there has been no change in its Kashmir policy and that this issue should be addressed bilaterally by India and Pakistan.

The two sides also focussed on a rules-based order and freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific, the people said.

There was also a “positive discussion” with “no disagreement” on the situation in Afghanistan, including the talks between the US and the Taliban for a planned withdrawal of foreign forces from the war-torn country, they said.

Reports have said that the US is close to an agreement with the Taliban on reducing foreign troops and a counterterrorism guarantee that Afghan soil won’t be used by terrorist groups. The agreement could be finalised by the two sides as early as next month but Kabul and New Delhi have expressed concerns about any hasty exit of foreign troops that could create a vacuum in Afghanistan.

The team led by Sullivan travelled to Delhi after a visit to Bhutan, where the US official held talks with King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Prime Minister Lotay Tshering. Against the backdrop of China attempting to expand its reach in Bhutan, Sullivan discussed a range of issues, including the importance of protecting and enhancing a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific.

First Published: Aug 16, 2019 23:38 IST