In Short Address, US Promises to Help India Fight Covid

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External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday met United States Secretary of State Antony Bilken and expressed solidarity amid the testing times of the coronavirus pandemic. The United States and India are working together on many important challenges that are impacting the lives of citizens and are united in the fight against COVID-19, said Bilken.

While India expressed gratitude for US aid to tackle the pandemic, Bilken said the US will never forget how India “stood by” them in the initial times of coronavirus.

Jaishankar, who is on an official trip to the US, is the first Indian Cabinet minister to visit the country since Joe Biden became US President on January 20. Prior to this, Jaishankar had a “warm meeting” with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin here during which they discussed further developing strategic and defence partnership between the two countries and exchanged views on “contemporary security challenges”.

“A warm meeting with US @SecDef Lloyd Austin. A comprehensive conversation about further developing our strategic and defence partnership,” Jaishankar tweeted after the meeting, sharing a photograph of them together. He further said they exchanged views on “contemporary security challenges”.

The two leaders are expected to have discussed the situation in the strategic Indo-Pacific region where China has been increasingly flexing its military muscles. Jaishankar also expressed appreciation of the US military role in responding to the COVID-19 situation in India. The US military has been transporting essential medical equipment and supplies to India to help the country combat the second surge of COVID-19 cases.

Earlier, Jaishankar held wide-ranging discussions on issues relating to Indo-Pacific and partnership between India and America in healthcare, digital, knowledge and other sectors during a meeting with India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, and top officials of the Biden administration. Jaishankar, who is on an official trip to the US, is the first Indian Cabinet minister to visit the country since Joe Biden became US President on January 20.

“Delighted to host EAM @DrSJaishankar @ India House,” Sandhu said on Twitter on Thursday, retweeting a picture and a post tweeted by Jaishankar on his meeting with the Director of National Intelligence in the Biden administration, Avril Haines. Issues related to Indo-Pacific and India-US partnership, including in healthcare, digital and knowledge sectors were discussed, he said on the meeting held at the Indian Embassy here.

Top officials from the US administration were also present in the meeting, Sandhu said, tagging twitter handles of the White House, National Security Council, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United States Mission to the United Nations (USUN), National Science Foundation (NSF) and departments of state, treasury, energy, homeland security, defence and commerce. Earlier, Jaishankar met US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan during which they agreed that people-to-people ties and shared values are the foundation of the US-India strategic partnership that is helping to end the pandemic, supporting a free and open Indo-Pacific and providing global leadership on climate change.

“Pleased to meet NSA Jake Sullivan. Wide-ranging discussions including on Indo-Pacific and Afghanistan. Conveyed appreciation for US solidarity in addressing the Covid challenge. India-US vaccine partnership can make a real difference,” Jaishankar said in a tweet after the meeting. The minister also held talks with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai to discuss a wide range of bilateral trade issues. He also had meetings with the top American business leadership hosted by the US India Business Council and the US India Strategic and Partnership Forum.

Jaishankar also met influential American lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties and discussed developments about Quad and the cooperation on vaccines with them.

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