Along with discussing Afghanistan, Indo-Pacific and Covid-related cooperation, topics like the issues of human rights and democracy will also be raised by Blinken.
US Secretary of State, Antony J Blinken in his first visit to India next week, will lay the groundwork for the first in-person Quad leaders’ meeting as well as the India-US 2+2 meeting to be held later this year.
Topics like Afghanistan, Indo-Pacific and Covid-related cooperation will be discussed, along with the issues of human rights and democracy. This was said by the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs in the US administration, Dean Thompson, at a briefing on Saturday morning.
Responding to a question, Thompson said that Blinken will raise issues of human rights and democracy with Indian officials during his first visit to New Delhi as the two nations have more values in common on those fronts than otherwise.
“With respect to the human rights and democracy question, yes, you’re right; I will tell you that we will raise it, and we will continue that conversation, because we firmly believe that we have more values in common on those fronts than we don’t…we believe India is going to be a really important part of continuing those conversations and building strong efforts on those fronts in partnership as we go forward,” he said.
On asked about the Pegasus spyware phone hacking controversy, he said, “The whole notion of using this type of technology against civil society, or regime critics, or journalists, or anybody like that through extrajudicial means is always concerning. We, I, don’t have any particular special insights into the India case. I know this is a broader issue, but I will say that we’ve been, I think, quite vocal about trying to find ways for companies to be able to ensure that their technology is not used in these types of ways. And we will certainly continue to press those issues.”
Also read: Pegasus Snooping’s Rafale Connection: Anil Ambani, Former CBI Director Alok Verma On Leaked List
Mentioning that the relationship with India is a “strong one that has endured through administrations of all colours and stripes in the US and will continue to do so”, Thompson said that, “Our bilateral discussions with our Indian partners will focus on expanding our security, defence, cyber and counter-terrorism 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. To that end, the Secretary and Defence Secretary (Lloyd J) Austin look forward to hosting their Indian counterparts for the annual US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue later this year”.
On the question related to Afghanistan, he said, “We intend to discuss our efforts to support a just and durable peace in Afghanistan. All of Afghanistan’s neighbours and countries in the region have an interest in a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan, which can only be accomplished through a negotiated political settlement that brings an end to 40 years of conflict. India, of course, is a critical partner in the region, and we welcome India’s shared commitment to peace and supporting economic development in Afghanistan.”
Staying away from the India-Pakistan bilateral issues, Thompson said, “With regard to India-Pakistan, I would just note that we strongly believe that India and Pakistan’s issues are ones for them to work out between themselves. We are pleased to see that the ceasefire that went into place earlier this year is – has – remained intact, and we certainly always encourage them to continue their efforts to find ways to build a more stable relationship going forward.”
Reminding that US President Joe Biden hosted a Quad summit with his counterparts from India, Japan and Australia, as one of the first multilateral events this year, he said that the US is working with India and other friends and partners in the region to advance the shared vision of the Indo-Pacific – “free, open, inclusive, healthy, anchored by democratic values and respect for human rights, and where sovereignty is safeguarded”.
They will also discuss health collaboration to combat Covid-19, including the Quad vaccine partnership that was first announced during the Quad summit.
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