India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar was on official visit to the United States (US) from 24-28 May 2021. During his visit, met several top US officials including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. This was Dr Jaishankar’s first visit to the US during the Biden administration.
Dr Jaishankar’s first major meeting was with the United Nations(UN) Secretary-General António Guterres. They discussed a range of issues like challenges posed due to COVID-19 emphasised the need to find effective vaccine solutions. Raising concerns over the peace in Afghanistan, Dr Jaishankar deliberated on the issues in India’s neighbourhood. He highlighted countering terrorism and radicalisation as key priorities for the entire region.
He also highlighted India’s constructive role in the UN Security Council (UNSC). India began its two year term as a non permanent member of the UNSC from Jan 2021 and will assume temporary Presidency for August 2021.
He met the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on 28 May. They discussed US-India bilateral cooperation and regional and global issues. The discussion covered Indo Pacific, the Quad, Afghanistan, Myanmar, UNSC matters and other international organizations, tweeted Dr Jaishankar after the meeting. The discussion between Mr Blinken and Dr. Jaishankar also focused on Indo-US vaccine partnership with focus on expanding vaccine access and ensuring supply.
“Appreciated [the] strong solidarity expressed by [the] US at this time. Today’s talks have further solidified our strategic partnership and enlarged our agenda of cooperation,” said Dr Jaishankar in a tweet.
“Productive discussion today with Dr S Jaishankar on regional security and economic priorities to include U.S. COVID-19 relief efforts, India-China border situation, and our support for Afghanistan. As friends, we will work together to address these areas of shared concern,” said Mr Blinken after the meeting.
Dr Jaishankar also met the US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on May 28. They held a “comprehensive conversation” about further developing Indo-US strategic and defence partnership. Dr Jaishankar and Mr Austin also exchanged views on contemporary security challenges. Mr Austin and Dr Jaishankar will also meet later this year in US India 2+2 dialogue.
“I had a terrific meeting with Dr S Jaishankar today. He graciously hosted me in India in March, and I was delighted to return his hospitality. The Department of Defense is deeply committed to strengthening our partnership with India as we work together to uphold a Free And Open Indo-Pacific,” said Mr Austin.
In a meeting with US Trade Representative Katherin Tai, Dr Jaishankar highlighted that trade, technology & business cooperation are at the core of Indo-US strategic partnership. These would be vital to post-Covid economic recovery. He also welcomed Ms Katherin Tai’s positive stance on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues. Earlier, India had demanded an IPR waiver on the COVID-19 vaccine and this bid was supported by the US along with more than 50 other countries.
Discussion between US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Dr Jaishankar focussed on Indo-Pacific and Afghanistan issues.
In the tour packed with numerous engagements, Dr Jaishankar also met with the members of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum and US-India Business Council.