US Secretary of
State Antony Blinken is in India on a two-day visit. On Wednesday, Blinken met India’s
Union Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor
Ajit Doval.

The US Secretary
of State arrived in India on Tuesday with an extensive agenda to discuss escalating
tensions in Afghanistan
and ways of boosting Indo-Pacific engagement and ways
to enhance COVID-19 response efforts.  

Speaking at a
press conference following his meeting with the external affairs minister, Antony
Blinken said, “It is a pleasure to be back in India. I came here 40 years ago
with my family.”

Discussing the escalating
tensions in Afghanistan and the conversation he had about it with Jaishankar,
the US Secretary of State said, “We discussed regional security issues,
including Afghanistan. As a credible partner in the region, India has and will
continue to make vital contribution to Afghanistan’s stability and development.”

“We will continue to work together to sustain the gains of the Afghan people and support regional stability after the withdrawal of coalition forces from the country (Afghanistan),” the US Secretary of State added. 

Blinken further said that even as the US withdraws forces in Afghanistan, it will keep supporting the country through development and security assistance. 

Talking about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on both the US and India, Blinken said, “COVID-19 hit both the US and India very hard. We remember with gratitude and will not forget the aid and assistance India provided to us early in the pandemic. I am proud we could return the gesture to India.”

This is Blinken’s first visit to India as Secretary of State and the third by a high-ranking official of the Biden administration. 

Earlier in the day, Blinken met India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. The two reportedly spoke on a range of bilateral and regional issues, including the security situation in Afghanistan. 

Blinken also met India’s civil society leaders after which he said that the US and India share a commitment to democratic values and it is part of the bedrock of the relationship.