The top diplomats of India and therefore the us pledged on Wednesday to expand their multilateral security partnership, underscoring the deepening of ties between the 2 countries concerned over China’s growing influence within the region.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Indian secretary of state Subrahmanyam Jaishankar met in New Delhi and sought to strengthen a regional front against Beijing’s assertiveness within the Indo-Pacific and their cooperation in Afghanistan.
They also lauded each country’s help in fighting the coronavirus and said their vaccine partnership is an attempt to finish the pandemic.
“There are few relationships within the world that are more vital than [the]one between the US and India. We are the world’s two leading democracies and our diversity fuels our national strength,” Blinken said at a joint press conference .
Washington has made no secret of the US desire for India’s help in isolating China. the 2 countries have steadily ramped up their military relationship and signed a string of defence deals.
The US and India are a part of the Quad regional alliance that also includes Japan and Australia and focuses on China’s growing economic and military capability . China has called the Quad an effort to contain its ambitions.
Blinken’s India visit comes just days after the No 2 US diplomat, Wendy Sherman, was in China.
Afghanistan may become ‘pariah state’
Blinken said he and Jaishankar also discussed regional security issues including Afghanistan, where the US is predicted to finish its military withdrawal in August. He called India’s contribution to the steadiness of Afghanistan “vital”.
Blinken said there was no “military solution” to the conflict in Afghanistan which the country would become a “pariah state” if the Taliban takes control by force.
“We will still work together to sustain the gains of the Afghan people and support regional stability after the withdrawal of coalition forces from the country,” Blinken said.
Jaishankar said the planet wishes to ascertain an “independent, sovereign, democratic and stable Afghanistan asleep with itself and with its neighbours”, and cautioned that the country’s “independence and sovereignty will only be ensured if it’s free from malign influences”.
New Delhi has often expressed concern that a Taliban takeover could lead on to security threats against India.
India has provided Afghan security forces with operational training and military equipment, albeit it’s had no troops on the bottom . it’s also provided quite $2 billion in development aid to Afghanistan.
In June, India’s foreign ministry said it had been in touch with “various stakeholders” in Afghanistan to debate its future. More recently, officials from the 2 countries have increased mutual visits.
“New Delhi is clearly stepping up its game on the Afghanistan front,” said Micheal Kugelman of the Asia Programme at the Washington-based Wilson Centre. “Its decision to interact more in regional diplomacy on Afghanistan signifies a desire to be more of a player than it’s within the past.”
In a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi afterward Wednesday, Blinken discussed the pandemic, security and defence cooperation, including Quad, and “shared values and democratic principles”, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.
Earlier during his visit, Blinken spoke to civil society leaders and said fundamental freedoms and rule of law are “tenets of democracies” just like the US and India.
Opponents of Modi’s governing Hindu nationalist party have accused it of stifling dissent and introducing divisive policies that discriminate against Muslims and other minorities. Modi has also been accused of trying to silence voices critical of his administration’s handling of the pandemic.
India routinely denies criticism of its human rights record. it’s also rejected criticism by foreign governments and rights groups that civil liberties have contracted within the country.
“We believe that each one people need to have a voice in their government, to be treated with respect, regardless of who they’re ,” Blinken said.
But experts say human rights concerns are unlikely to fundamentally affect the US-India relationship.
“For all the rhetoric trumpeting the shared values that drive partnership, it really boils right down to shared interests,” Kugelman said. “At the top of the day, goodbye as China’s rise continues to be a standard concern, the connection will haven’t any trouble operating on all cylinders.”
Blinken will visit Kuwait after his India visit.