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Antony Blinken: US, India must work against threats to democracy

“The Indians and the Americans believe in human dignity, equality of opportunity, freedom of religion and belief, these are the fundamental tenets of democracies like ours,” Blinken said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is on a two-day visit in India with an extensive agenda involving the security situation in Afghanistan, boosting Indo-Pacific engagement and ways to enhance COVID-19 response efforts.

Mr Blinken spoke to the Foreign Minister, stressing on the need for “cooperation among countries than ever before”. He said that, “There isn’t a challenge that doesn’t have impact on the lives of our citizens whether it’s Covid, disruptive impact of emerging technologies that can be addressed by any one of us acting alone.” “President Joe Biden is determined to strengthen India-US ties,” he added.

Mr Blinken will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi this evening. Before meeting Dr Jaishankar, Mr Blinken held talks with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on a range of bilateral and regional issues including the security situation in Afghanistan.

“As a credible partner in the region, India has and will continue to make vital contribution to Afghanistan’s stability and development,” Mr Blinken said.

During the talks with Dr Jaishankar on various issues, Dr Jaishankar highlighted cooperation against the pandemic and deepening expansion of India-US cooperation under Quad. “Today, we focused on expanding vaccine production to make it globally affordable and accessible,” Dr Jaishankar said during a media briefing with his US counterpart.

Later while speaking to a group of civil society leaders at a hotel in New Delhi, Mr Blinken said that, “The Indian people and the American people believe in human dignity and equality of opportunity, the rule of law, fundamental freedoms including freedom of religion and belief, these are the fundamental tenets of democracies like ours.”

A representative of Dalai Lama was part of these talks was in what is seen as a strong message to China. Ngodup Dongchung serves as a representative of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), also known as the Tibetan government in exile. “I was pleased to meet civil society leaders today. The US and India share a commitment to democratic values; this is part of the bedrock of our relationship and reflective of India”s pluralistic society and history of harmony. Civil society helps advance these values,” he tweeted.

Also read: US Secretary Of State Visit To India, Says Will Raise Human Rights Issue

While talking about the democratic values shared by both countries, Blinken said, “Shared values – freedom and equality – are key and none of us have done enough. We need to strengthen our democratic institutions. This is at the core of our relationship, beyond strategic and economic ties,” Mr Blinken said.

“One of the elements Americans admire most is fundamental freedom and human rights. That’s how we define India. India’s democracy is powered by free-thinking citizens,” Mr Blinken added.

New Delhi is Mr Blinken’s first stop in his two-nation tour. He will fly to Kuwait from India.

 

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