US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to arrive in New Delhi today and his main purpose of visit is to discuss bilateral relations, regional issues including Afghanistan, Pakistan sponsored terrorism, Indo-pacific among various other issues with Indian officials. Tomorrow the US top diplomat would meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar. This is Blinken's first visit to India after taking charge.
In the defence domain, both sides are expected to investigate ways and means to strengthen their collaboration. This would cover policy exchanges, exercises, and defence transfers and technologies. These would be covered in greater detail during the fourth 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue due in the US later this year.
The subject of the agenda would be "focus on expanding our security, defense cyber and counterterrorism cooperation," states the Department of State Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Acting Assistant Secretary Dean Thompson.
Thompson also said that Secretary Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lyod Austin look forward to hosting their Indian counterparts in the annual US India 2+2 ministerial dialogue, later this year.
Indian ambassador to the United States Taranjit Singh Sandhu will also return to Delhi to participate in the high-level meetings where Afghanistan will remain one of the top focus, with Thompson underscoring India's shared commitment to peace and supporting economic development in Afghanistan.
"We expect that all the countries in the region have a shared interest in a stable and secure Afghanistan going forward" and so "we will certainly be looking at talking with our Indian partners about how we can work together to realize that goal, to find ways to bring the parties together, and continue to pursue a negotiated settlement to end the longstanding war."
Sources say, "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 are also expected to be a key focus area of talks, with the possibility of a Foreign Ministerial Quad meeting later this year.
India and the US will also take forward the Quad vaccine initiative to enable the supply of vaccines produced in India from early 2022 to countries in the Indo-Pacific region, said a source. Afghanistan witnessing massive violence would be the central issue, implications of the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, and the need for sustained pressure on Pakistan on terror financing and terror havens would be part of the agenda.
According to sources the discussion would cover, two sides exchanging assessments about the Indo-Pacific region, with main attention on Covid assistance, economic slowdown and security scenario. Latest developments pertaining to West Asia and Central Asia are also likely to be covered. Blinken's trip will follow a visit by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to China and coincide with one to Southeast Asia by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.