Secretary of State Antony Blinken will reaffirm the strength of the US-India bilateral relationship during his visit to India and will have the opportunity to discuss matters of shared interests, officials have said.
Blinken arrived in New Delhi Wednesday night after his Central Asia trip. He is in New Delhi primarily to attend the G20 Foreign Ministers meeting. On the sidelines of the meeting, he will have a meeting with his counterparts from Quad countries and participate in a panel discussion with them.
"Secretary Blinken will reaffirm the strength of the US-India relationship and express our commitment to continue working together and in groups like the Quad to advance economic growth for our two countries and expand cooperation as we have our shared priorities," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday.
Quad is comprised of Japan, India, Australia and the United States. The four countries had in 2017 given shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the "Quad" or the Quadrilateral coalition to counter China's aggressive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific region.
China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. Beijing has also made substantial progress in militarising its man-made islands in the past few years.
Beijing claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. But Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims. In the East China Sea, China has territorial disputes with Japan.
Blinken would also hold bilateral talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
"Namaste, India!" Blinken's Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said on the landing of Blinken in New Delhi.
"Secretary Blinken has arrived in New Delhi for the G-20 FMM (foreign ministers meeting) and to strengthen the US-India strategic partnership, which is founded on our shared values including a commitment to democracy and the rules-based international system," Patel said in a tweet.
Soon after the landing of Blinken in New Delhi, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters that he will attend the G20 meeting and take part in the Raisina Dialogue.
He will also have an opportunity to engage on a bilateral basis with (his counterpart) Jaishankar, and other senior Indian leaders, he said.
"Our relationship with India is a global strategic partnership. It is a partnership that is broad; it is a partnership that is deep and comprehensive. So, they'll have an opportunity to discuss the issues that will dominate the agenda within the G20," Price said.
"They’ll have an opportunity to discuss some of the new areas of partnership between the United States and India, including when it comes to technology, including when it comes to the cyber realm, including when it comes to the ways in which we are attempting to integrate our partner, India, into our broader set of partnerships across the world including through I2U2, the partnership that brings together the United States, India, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates," he said.
Blinken will have an opportunity to discuss the shared vision for a free Indo-Pacific, and broadly he'll have an opportunity to talk about what is a bedrock of the partnership between the United States and India, Price said.
"What unites our two countries are common interests. We all share an interest in a free and open Indo-Pacific region. But our people and the deep people-to-people ties are also predicated on the shared values between our two countries," he said.
"Of course, as two of the largest democracies in the world, we always discuss these issues knowing that we can learn from one another, and our engagement puts us in a position to strengthen our own democracies," Price said.
Responding to a question, Price said G20 is an important forum.
"We are supportive of India’s leadership and its effective stewardship of the G20 this year, and it's an important forum where, as guided by the Indian leadership this year, participants will be able to talk about the issues that matter most to the people that are represented by this forum," he said.
They'll have an opportunity to talk about food security, to talk about energy, health security, common challenges like fentanyl and narcotics, he said.
"The G20 is not principally a security forum, but as the leaders recognized in Bali under Indonesia’s leadership last year, security issues do have implications for all of these issues that the G20 countries care about.
"What we saw coming out of the G20 finance ministers meeting last weekend was a very clear manifestation that the G20 is determined to make progress, to address and confront these common challenges, and to the extent, there are divides within the G20, it is Russia, it is China that find themselves isolated," Price said.
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