US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (file photo). Photograph:( AFP )
WION was the first channel to break the story about Blinken's visit to India last week
India will be calling for "need for sustained pressure" on Pakistan over terrorism during US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit this week. Pakistan has been on the grey list of terror watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for last two years. Pakistan has been dragging feet on the issue of action against United Nations-listed terrorist groups.
During the visit, the first by Blinken to New Delhi, regional security situation, that is, "implications of the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan" will be another key focus, sources have pointed out. Even as US forces leave the country for 20 years, the Taliban has been increasingly making territorial gains and reports of large-scale violence are emanating from the country.
India has been engaging with the US in Afghanistan. Earlier this month, India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met US Deputy NSA Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall. He met US Special Representative on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad last week in Uzbekistan on the sidelines of the connectivity summit.
Sources pointed out that during Blinken's visit, both sides will "exchange assessments about the Indo-Pacific region" especially with a focus on the Quad and Quad vaccine initiative. US plans to host the first in-person Quad meet of India, Australia, US and Japan later this year in Washington. Before that a Quad foreign ministers meet will also take place. March saw the first Quad meet but it was a virtual one with a key outcome on the Quad Vaccine initiative. Under the initiative, India will be producing vaccines by early 2022 which will be given to countries in the Indo-Pacific.
During the Blinken-EAM Jaishankar talks, sources said that India "will press for gradual resumption of international travel, while maintaining health protocols, especially easing the mobility of students, professionals, business travelers..", calling for the need for "ensuring open and consistent supply chains for materials and items required for vaccine production".
Both Blinken and Jaishankar have met each other 3 times previously, first on the sidelines of the G7 foreign ministers meet in London, then during EAM's visit to the US, and finally, on the sidelines of the G20 FMs meet in Italy.
On defence, "sides are expected to explore ways and means to deepen their collaboration" which will cover policy exchanges, exercises, and defence transfers and technologies. Later this year, both sides will hold the fourth 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue that will take place in the US.
Meanwhile, on US State dept officials saying Human rights will be raised during the visit, sources said, "Issues such as human rights and democracy are universal and extend beyond a particular national or cultural perspective". Sources explained, "India is proud of its achievements in both domains and is always glad to share experiences", adding, "as a long-standing pluralistic society, India is open to engaging those who now recognize the value of diversity."
Blinken is the second senior official of Biden Administration to visit Delhi this year. United States Secretary of Defense, General (Retd.) Lloyd J. Austin had visited New Delhi earlier this year. From Delhi, Blinken will go to Kuwait. WION was the first channel to break the story about Blinken's visit to India last week.