US backs India as global power and vital partner in Indo-Pacific as Blinken begins visit
The US said on Monday it backs India’s emergence as a leading global power and a vital partner to make the Indo-Pacific a region of stability and economic inclusion as secretary of state Antony Blinken began a two-day visit to the country.
Blinken, the third senior member of the Biden administration to travel to India this year, is expected to hold wide-ranging discussions on issues such as the situation in Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific during his meetings with external affairs minister S Jaishankar, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.
The secretary of state flew into New Delhi hours after US defense secretary Lloyd Austin accused China of working against the shared principles and interests of the US and its partners across the Indo-Pacific. While the US and its friends are committed to inclusion and freedom of the seas, China had shown “unwillingness to resolve disputes peacefully and respect the rule of law”, he said.
Opposing China’s claim to the majority of the South China Sea, Austin said: “We have also seen aggression against India…destabilising military activity and other forms of coercion against the people of Taiwan…and genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.”
A fact sheet issued by the US state department soon after Blinken arrived in New Delhi on Monday evening said his engagements will reaffirm Washington’s commitment to strengthen the bilateral partnership and underscore cooperation on shared priorities.
“The United States supports India’s emergence as a leading global power and vital partner in efforts to ensure that the Indo-Pacific is a region of peace, stability, and growing prosperity and economic inclusion,” the fact sheet said.
The US and India are closely coordinating on regional security issues, such as Afghanistan, and are also partnering to strengthen the global Covid-19 response, on issues ranging from addressing infectious disease outbreaks to securing global supply chains.
Besides working to expand cooperation in international organisations, the US will host the fourth 2+2 dialogue of defence and foreign ministers later this year.
At the maiden Quad Leaders’ Summit in March, US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined their Japanese and Australian counterparts in pledging to respond to the economic and health impacts of Covid-19, combat the climate crisis and address shared challenges in cyber-space, critical technologies, counter-terrorism, quality infrastructure investment, and maritime security.
The US has provided more than $200 million for India’s Covid-19 relief and response efforts, including more than $50 million in emergency supplies and training for more than 218,000 frontline health workers. US pharmaceutical companies coordinated with Indian counterparts on issues such as voluntary licensing and technology transfer agreements to increase global manufacturing capacity for Covid-19 vaccines, therapies and conducting clinical trials.
Though the US has also outlined plans to share millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines from its surplus stocks, actual supplies have been held up by differences over the issue of indemnity for American manufacturers of the jabs.
Under the US-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership launched in April, the two sides intend to launch a new climate action and finance mobilisation dialogue and relaunch the strategic clean energy partnership.