US Secretary of State begins his two-day visit to India today
This will be Blinken's first visit to the country after assuming charge as the US Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken is landing in India on Tuesday on a two-day visit, amid deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.
In New Delhi on July 28, US Secretary Blinken will meet with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss a wide range of issues including continued cooperation on COVID-19 response efforts, Indo-Pacific engagement, shared regional security interests, shared democratic values, and addressing the climate crisis, a statement by the US embassy informed.
This will be Blinken's first visit to the country after assuming charge as the US Secretary of State and third by a high-ranking Biden administration official after it came to power in January.
Earlier in March, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin visited India while US Special Envoy on Climate Change John Kerry travelled to New Delhi in April.
Blinken’s visit is an opportunity to “continue the high-level bilateral dialogue and bolster the India-US global strategic partnership”, the external affairs ministry said last week while announcing the visit.
“Both sides will review the robust and multifaceted India-US bilateral relations, and potential for consolidating them further,” it added.
Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Dean Thompson said on Friday that the discussions will focus on expanding ties in areas of security, defence, cyber, and counterterrorism cooperation.
"We collaborate across the government on these issues, including through regular US-India working group meetings, and we look forward to further strengthening our ties with India to ensure a safer and more secure world," he said.
According to sources quoted by a news agency, the agenda of the visit said both sides will extensively deliberate on the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan with the Taliban increasing its hostilities in an attempt to seize control of new areas in the country.
Afghanistan witnessed a series of terror attacks in the last few weeks as the US withdrew the majority of its troops and is looking at completing the drawdown by August 31, ending nearly two decades of its military presence in the country.
The two sides are also expected to explore ways to deepen defence collaboration, including exercises, defence transfers and technologies ahead of the next edition of the 2 2 defence and foreign ministerial dialogue to be held in the US later this year, they said.
Both sides will also discuss ways to deepen engagement in the Indo-Pacific region as well as in enhancing COVID-19 response efforts.
The two sides are also expected to look at implementing the Quad vaccine initiative.