US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

US Diplomat Blinken to visit India to discuss defense, counterterrorism cooperation with Indian officials next week

ANI | Updated: Jul 24, 2021 10:45 IST

By Reena Bhardwaj
Washington [US], July 24 (ANI): US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will arrive in New Delhi late Tuesday, to discuss with Indian officials the agenda of expanding our security, defense cyber, and counterterrorism cooperation.
The State Department said on Friday, making it the top US diplomat's first visit to India, an important US ally in Asia.
Blinken will depart from Washington on Monday evening and will arrive in New Delhi late Tuesday. On Wednesday, the US top diplomat will meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar.
Among the subjects on the agenda will be "focus on expanding our security, defense cyber and counterterrorism cooperation," said 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."
The United States sees India as an important partner in efforts to stand up to China's increasingly assertive behavior.
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.
Thompson indicated that another key issue will be Quad grouping. "I expect the Quad and ideas about our engagements with the Quad to definitely factor into our conversations next week" Thompson declared.
The United States hosted a virtual summit of the Quad countries in March at which they agreed that Indian drugmaker Biological E Ltd would produce at least a billion coronavirus vaccine doses by the end of 2022, mainly for Southeast Asian and Pacific countries.
"Certainly, the recent challenges in particular that India faced, you know, created a bit of a delay in getting certain aspects of it started but I would note that the working groups have been meeting. The plan had always been for that billion doses to roll out in 2022. And so we hope to continue to work towards that goal," Thompson added.
The ongoing Covid Crisis and climate change will also be part of the talks. he said (ANI)