Foreign minister S Jaishankar with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Foreign minister S Jaishankar with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Secretary Blinken to meet PM Modi, Afghanistan, Quad and Indo-Pacific on agenda

The agenda for the forthcoming Quad summit in October, vaccine production in India, Indo-Pacific in context of Chinese belligerence and Taliban military offensive in Afghanistan will be on the table.
By Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 22, 2021 03:39 PM IST

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in New Delhi on July 27-28 with Af-Pak, Indo-Pacific and vaccines on top of the agenda. All official meeting are scheduled on July 28.

The US diplomacy is in action from this week with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in Japan and scheduled to visit China on Sunday. US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin will be in Singapore, Vietnam and Philippines next week with Chinese aggression in South China Sea becoming a major election issue in Manila.

While the Modi government is tight-lipped about Secretary Blinken's visit, Afghanistan will be on top of the agenda with the Sunni Pashtun Islamists Taliban out to seize Kabul by force with tacit support of Pakistani deep state. While Pakistan and Taliban would like the world to believe that victory is imminent, US Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Mike Milley has openly said that the end game is still to be written in Afghanistan with all the provincial capitals under control of the ruling Afghan government. He, however, admitted that half of the 419 district centres were under Taliban control.

While the Taliban has got major military success in north Badakhshan province, the situation can take a reverse turn if the Afghan government gets air support against the Islamists in the battle ahead.

Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of Chinese aggression in Ladakh and South China Sea will be another important topic of discussion as India has made it clear to Beijing that resolution of East Ladakh LAC is critical to the normalization of bilateral ties and all transgressions from Depsang Bulge to Gogra-Hot Springs are on the dialogue table.

The agenda of the forthcoming Quad summit in US in October will also be discussed with production of vaccines in India a key issue to protect the world from still rampaging coronavirus, which started from Wuhan in China towards end-2019. The Quad powers have got a boost with EU and Britain coming on the same page on rule of law and freedom of navigation on sea in the context of Chinese military activities in South China Sea. In fact all the democratic powers are looking towards India as they move towards resilient global supply chains, free from leverage of any single power.

During Secretary Blinken’s visit, the two countries will further cement bilateral cooperation with India set to buy Predator drones from the US for national security. The two countries will also exchange notes on possible of rise of terror groups with the Taliban taking control of Afghanistan as in the 1990s, when groups like Harkat-ul-Ansar and HuJI operated as off-shoots of the Sunni fundamentalists and Wahabbi groups.

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