Quad, defence engagement will be on agenda during US Secretary of State's two-day visit
India and the US will also exchange views on Indo-Pacific during the Secretary of State's visit
Continuing the high level visits from the Joe Biden administration, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be arriving in India on a two-day maiden visit, beginning from July 27.
In March, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had visited India, while Special Envoy on Climate Change John Kerry in April.
Secretary Blinken’s visit reciprocates the visit by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to the US in May 2021. The two leaders have also had detailed conversations this year in the UK, on the sidelines of G-7 foreign ministers meeting and Italy (at the G20 meeting).
India attaches considerable importance to the visit of Secretary Blinken and looks forward to taking forward the conversation with the US on numerous issues, be it bilateral, regional, addressing Covid or global developments.
The visit will be an opportunity to further consolidate bilateral cooperation across a vast agenda. Issues like augmenting trade and investment, and tapping opportunities in healthcare, education, digital domain, innovation and security, will be important elements of the conversation, sources said.
In the defence domain, both sides are expected to explore ways and means to deepen their collaboration. This will cover policy exchanges, exercises, and defence transfers and technologies. These will be would be covered in greater detail during the fourth 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue due in the US later this year, people familiar with the development said.
Discussions will cover containment of Covid-19 and Covid-19 recovery efforts. India will press for gradual resumption of international travel, while maintaining health protocols, especially easing mobility of students, professionals, business travellers, family reunions, humanitarian cases, sources said.
The need for resilient supply chains of critical medicines and healthcare equipment is likely to come up.
On vaccines, India will continue to push for ensuring open and consistent supply chains for materials and items required for vaccine production, as India ramps up both for domestic vaccination and as for global supplies thereafter.
Discussions on deepening Quad engagement will a key focus area of talks, with possibility of a Foreign Ministerial Quad meeting later this year. Both sides will also take forward Quad vaccine initiative to enable supply of vaccines produced in India from early 2022, to countries in Indo-Pacific region, sources said.
On the regional security situation, implications of withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, and the need for sustained pressure on Pakistan on terror financing and terror havens, will be part of the agenda.
The two sides will also exchange assessments about the Indo-Pacific region, with focus on Covid assistance, economic slowdown and security scenario. Latest developments pertaining to West Asia and Central Asia area also likely to be covered, sources said.
Climate change remains an important area of our conversation, particularly potential for green collaborations as well as climate finance and transfer of clean technologies to developing countries.
India will also engage with the US on other global issues. Political and cultural rebalancing are important trends. India supports a truly multipolar, democratic and diverse world order and expects international conversations to reflect this evolution. “We believe in equity and fairness, whether in development, climate change or global decision-making,” sources said.
Issues such as human rights and democracy are universal and extend beyond a particular national or cultural perspective. India is proud of its achievements in both domains and is always glad to share experiences.
As a long-standing pluralistic society, India is open to engaging those who now recognise the value of diversity.
Discussions will also cover working together in the UN, especially with India holding the Presidency of the UN Security Council in August 2021.