With the arrival of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in India, the stage is set for a comprehensive talk between him and External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar here on Wednesday. Quad’s more effective role to rein in China, Pakistan’s continuing terror financing, Taliban’s terror tantrum in Afghanistan and India’s permanent membership in UNSC will be the major issues that will dominate the discussions between both the leaders.
Top diplomatic sources told The Daily Guardian that Blinken may send out a tough message to Pakistan over terrorism and to China over its belligerence.
Sources said that India has substantial evidence on how Afghanistan is gradually turning into a safe haven for terror outfits Al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba with the help of both the Taliban and Pakistan. Even the US intelligence agencies are said to have solid information about this. Sources said that Blinken and Jaishankar would be taking an “unblinking view” of what is happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s obvious connivance with Taliban even as the US troops return from the trouble-torn nation.
India is more than keen to use the visit of the top US official of the Biden administration to ensure that some plain speaking is done by Blinken for both Pakistan and China. “A strong message should go out from India by the US to both the trouble-creators,” says a diplomat. Blinken’s visit to India also assumes significance in the light of the fact that a Quad leaders’ summit is on the cards. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be attending the summit which will be quite crucial, given Chinese aggressive behaviour.
Sources said Blinken and Jaishankar will also set the agenda for that particular meet. Quad consists of the US, Japan, Australia and India. Blinken seeks a much greater role of India in Quad. Both the leaders will look into several strategic issues related to Indo-Pacific. Similarly, Jaishankar will reiterate India’s claim for permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council. The US has on several occasions supported India’s claim, but as Blinken is in town, Jaishankar will not miss this chance to push this agenda as well.
This is Blinken’s first visit to India as Secretary of State and follows those by two of his cabinet colleagues—US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin who was in New Delhi in March and Special Envoy on Climate Change John Kerry who visited in April.
“Wheels up for my trip to New Delhi and Kuwait City. I look forward to consultations with our partners to further cooperation in support of our shared interests in the Indo-Pacific and Middle East,” Blinken said in a Twitter post just ahead of his departure from Washington. Blinken will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday afternoon after talks with Jaishankar. He is also expected to meet NSA Ajit Doval.
Jaishankar and Blinken will also hold discussion on the coordinated Covid-19 response. Blinken has also indicated that he would like to gauge when India would be ready to begin sharing Covid-19 vaccines with the world during his visit to India. The US statement said that Blinken’s visit would “reaffirm the United States’ commitment to strengthening our partnership and underscore cooperation on our shared priorities”.
On the arrival of Blinken, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesman Arindam Bagchi in his tweet said, “A partnership anchored in shared values, mutual interests and goodwill.”