'Few relationships more vital': Blinken says US won't forget India's early pandemic aid
- The top US diplomat said that the two sides discussed regional security issues including Afghanistan, echoing Jaishankar’s remark that there was much more convergence on the matter than divergence.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken on Wednesday said that there are few relationships more vital than the one between India and the United States. Speaking at a joint press conference after India-US delegation-level talks, Blinken said the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) hit both countries very hard and the US will not forget the aid and assistance India provided early in the pandemic.
“I am proud we could return the gesture to India,” Blinken told the press conference, referring to the assistance provided to India during the second Covid wave.
The top US diplomat said that the two sides discussed regional security issues including Afghanistan, echoing Jaishankar’s remark that there was much more convergence on the matter than divergence. Blinken stressed that both sides are committed to the proposition that there is no military solution to the conflict.
“There has to be a peaceful resolution that requires the Taliban and the Afghan government to come to the table and we both agree, I think, strongly that any future government in Afghanistan has to be inclusive and fully representative of Afghan people,” said Blinken, adding that it has to be “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.”
The Taliban have been rapidly making advances in Afghanistan after US troops started withdrawal from the war-torn region. But Blinken said that the US remains engaged in Afghanistan through important programmes that support the country economically through development and security assistance.
“We are very much engaged in the diplomacy of working to bring parties together at the table for the resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan,” he added.
The high-level meeting between India and the US takes place at an important juncture when key global and regional challenges need to be effectively addressed, said Jaishankar during his opening remarks at the press conference.
Highlighting the “extent of transformation” of India-US relations in recent years, the minister noted that “much has happened” in 2021 including the Covid-19 response, cooperation on defence and security, trade and investment, and addressing climate change.
Jaishankar acknowledged Biden’s administration response in keeping the raw materials supply chain open for vaccine production in India and thanked the US for the “exceptional” support during the second Covid wave.
The two sides, Jaishankar said, also discussed the travel challenges resulting from Covid-19 and the minister appreciated the US for being "very forthcoming" on the travel issues related to students. He added that India hopes the US will take a "sympathetic view" of other travellers as well in the days to come.