1,300 Americans Return Home From India On Special Flights: US Official

In India, the US State Department is working with local authorities to provide assistance to American citizens stranded in different parts of the country.

1,300 Americans Return Home From India On Special Flights: US Official

The US has organised 13 flights from South and Central Asia to bring back citizens. (Representational)

Washington:

Senior US diplomat Alice Wells has said that at least 29,000 US citizens have flown back from South and Central Asian countries, including India on 13 repatriation flights.

"As of today, the United States has organised 13 flights from South and Central Asia, including special flights home for about 2,900 US citizens from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan," Ms Wells said.

In India, she said, the US State Department is working with local authorities to provide assistance to American citizens stranded in different parts of the country.

"In India, we are responding to requests for assistance from thousands of Americans located in cities and villages spread across a vast area. So far, we have supported the repatriations of about 1,300 American citizens there despite the lockdown conditions," Ms Wells added.

She said it has been a team effort.

"In addition to the heroic work of US government personnel throughout the region, we are really very grateful to our counterparts in South and Central Asia. Whether it is local, regional, national governments, health officials, customs and migration services, law enforcement agencies, civil aviation authorities and airport workers, it really is a team effort."

The US diplomat also spoke about the need for India and US to work together to respond to the COVID-19 challenge. India is contemplating to release hydroxychloroquine, a key anti-malaria drug used in the treatment of coronavirus, fro export to other countries.

US President Donald Trump, in a phone call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had requested lifting a hold on its order of the drug.

Ms Wells said: "I think you received a very strong sort of affirmation in the call between the Prime Minister and the President yesterday of the fact that the US and India need to work together to respond to the COVID-19 challenge, to be a solution to the threat posed by the virus. So, India has long been a significant partner of the United States and the pharmaceutical sector. It is one of our top imports from India in 2018."

"India is obviously one of the world's leaders in the supply of generic drugs. It represents a significant portion of the precursor pharmaceuticals that supply the US market," she said.

Her comments come even as Donald Trump said India may face retaliation from the US if it does not release hydroxychloroquine.