The US is looking forward to doing everything it can to support India’s work to make its G20 presidency a success and Secretary of State Antony Blinken would attend the crucial meeting of the foreign ministers of the grouping next week in New Delhi, a senior official has said.
Blinken will also attend a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Quad grouping and will hold bilateral talks with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar in Delhi.
India assumed the Presidency of the G20 on December 1 last year.
The top American diplomat is travelling to New Delhi on a three-day official visit from March 1 to 3.
“Blinken looks forward to going to Delhi as part of India’s G20 presidency year. We look forward to doing everything we can to support India’s work to make its G20 presidency a success," Ramin Toloui, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, told reporters in Washington.
"There is no shortage of common challenges, and we want to deepen our partnership with other G20 countries to address these challenges,” Toloui said.
Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu said Blinken will be meeting India's External Affairs Minister Jaishankar.
“They’ll talk about our strategic partner partnership but really focus on how we’re working together in the Asian Quad, in the G20, what we’re doing on defence cooperation and the Initiative for Critical and Emerging Technologies that is being run out of the White House and the (Indian) prime minister’s office,” he said.
“On March 3rd, the Secretary will also participate in a meeting of the foreign ministers of the Asian Quad, which is the United States, India, Japan, and Australia,” Lu said, adding that immediately following the Quad ministerial meeting Blinken will participate in a panel at the Raisina Dialogue.
Lu said several crucial matters would be taken up during the Quad meeting.
“And what will be interesting about this I’m not aware that they’ve ever had an hour-long public event where the four foreign ministers have had a chance to talk about the Quad, and to demonstrate how it is getting tangible and concrete things done in the Indo-Pacific,” Lu said In November 2017, India, Japan, the US and Australia gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the "Quad" to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence in the backdrop of China's rising military manoeuvring in the resource-rich region.
China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea. China also has territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea.
“I think we’re going to hear about what we’re doing on humanitarian assistance, disaster relief. We’ll hear about what we’re doing to improve security in the Indo-Pacific, in the Maritime Domain Awareness space. We will talk about achievements in vaccine diplomacy, and then you’ll hear about the launch of the Quad fellows programme, and a recent business and investment forum,” Lu said.
Giving a preview of the trip, Toloui said the purpose of the G20 is to bring together the major economies of the world to tackle common challenges.
“We will be discussing food security, energy security, health security, the climate crisis, development, humanitarian challenges, and other issues that require international coordination, like the proliferation of illicit synthetic drugs,” he said.
Blinken will discuss the range of things that the United States is doing to address these global challenges that include the USD 13.5 billion that the US committed last year to address emergency food needs, as well as strengthen food systems for the medium term.
“It includes actions like the USD 450 million that the United States has pledged to the pandemic fund, as well as USD 1.3 billion per year the US will invest under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to support health care workers fighting HIV/AIDS, and it will include many other things,” he said.
“It is also an unfortunate reality that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not only itself a threat to sovereignty and territorial integrity of states – Russia’s invasion also makes so many of these critical global challenges, from food insecurity to energy insecurity, worse,” he said.
Responding to a question on the India-Russia relationship, Lu hoped India will use its influence with Russia to support an end to the conflict, and as Foreign Minister Jaishankar has said, end to the conflict according to the principles of the UN Charter: territorial integrity and sovereignty.
“We have said before, the Secretary has said India has had a long and complicated history with Russia going back to the Cold War days, that is a deep and sustained relationship over many decades,” Lu said.
The ties between India and Russia remained strong notwithstanding Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. India's import of Russian crude oil has gone up significantly in the last few months despite increasing disquiet over it in many Western countries.
India has faced pressure from the West to distance itself from Moscow after Russia invaded Ukraine. The US also trying to encourage India to encourage India’s transition away from Russian weapons.
India has not yet condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and it has been maintaining that the crisis must be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue.
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