US Secretary Of State To Visit India Next Week, Will Meet PM Modi

It will be Antony Blinken's first visit to India after assuming charge as US Secretary of State after US President Joe Biden's election.

US Secretary Of State To Visit India Next Week, Will Meet PM Modi

Antony Blinken will visit India from July 27-28 (File)

Highlights

  • This will be US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's first India visit
  • Antony Blinken will meet Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, NSA Ajit Doval
  • "Discussions will focus on regional and global issues", statement said
New Delhi:

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will arrive in India on Tuesday and will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, the government announced on Friday, amid growing worries about the American exit from Afghanistan.

It will be Mr Blinken's first visit, after assuming charge as US Secretary of State following US President Joe Biden's election, to India, which since the late 1990s has moved increasingly close to the United States as the world's two largest democracies see shared interests on a rising China and other challenges.

Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin visited New Delhi as part of his first overseas trip but Mr Blinken's travel was put on hold amid a severe outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

The Secretary of State will meet his Indian counterpart, Mr Jaishankar, and Ajit Doval, the National Security Adviser on Wednesday.

"Secretary Blinken's visit is an opportunity to continue the high-level bilateral dialogue and bolster the India-US global strategic partnership," the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

"Both sides will review the robust and multifaceted India-US bilateral relations, and potential for consolidating them further," it said.

"Discussions will focus on regional and global issues of mutual interest - including recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indo-Pacific region, Afghanistan and cooperation in the UN," the statement added.

In addition to his trip to New Delhi, Mr Blinken will also travel to Kuwait City during his foreign trip from July 26 to 29, which US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said is to reaffirm America's commitment to strengthening partnerships and underscore cooperation on their shared priorities.

"In New Delhi on July 28, Secretary Blinken will meet 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," Mr Price said.

"Blinken will travel on July 28 to Kuwait City where he will meet with senior Kuwaiti officials to continue discussions of key bilateral issues that underscore the importance of our 60 years of diplomatic ties," he said.

India has been among the most enthusiastic supporters of Afghanistan's government, which took office with international support after the US invasion following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

President Joe Biden has ordered US troops out of Afghanistan, ending America's longest-ever war, by the end of August, saying nothing more can be achieved - despite rapid gains on the ground by Taliban insurgents.

The Taliban welcomed virulently anti-Indian extremists when the Sunni Muslim terrorists ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, with an Indian civilian airliner hijacked to the Taliban bastion of Kandahar in 1999.

India has pumped $3 billion in Afghanistan since 2001, including helping build a new parliament building, angering its historic rival Pakistan which was the primary backer of the Taliban.

India recently evacuated 50 diplomats and others from its consulate in Kandahar although it insisted the mission remained open and that personnel would return as soon as security improves.

Under President Biden, the United States has also looked to step up cooperation with India on the key priorities of climate change and global health with a deal announced in March for India to produce one billion Covid vaccine doses with US, Japanese and Australian support.

(With inputs from AFP)