US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said his country will send $25 million worth of support to India's COVID-19 vaccination program. India is badly hit by the second wave of coronavirus with the case tally crossing the 3-crore mark and fatalities above 4 lakh.
Blinken said that the US has contributed more than $200 million worth of COVID-19 assistance. "India and the US will be leaders in bringing the pandemic to an end. We will do it together including through the QUAD vaccine partnership," he said after his meeting with India's External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar today.
Jaishankar said India has acknowledged the US efforts to keep the vaccine raw material supply chain open. "We discussed the need for global availability of affordable vaccines. We hope the US would take a sympathetic view of Indian travellers," Jaishankar said adding that they will continue to work together on vaccine availability and production.
The leaders discussed a range of issues including Afghanistan, the Indo-Pacific, and the Gulf. He said that both countries agreed that peace and negotiations should be taken seriously in Afghanistan and also the country's diversity must be considered while finding a lasting solution.
Blinken said, "We believe there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. There has to be a peaceful resolution by Afghanistan and the Taliban. Any new peace process in Afghanistan has to be Afghan-led. We reject the proposition that military force is the way to define the future of Afghanistan. US and India are in alignment over Afghanistan."
Earlier this month, the US had withdrawn its troops in Afghanistan.
Blinken also explained QUAD
and said four like-minded countries are coming together to work on some of the most important issues of time that are impacting the lives of the people. The countries will work in a way that will ensure a free & open Indo-Pacific. He added that is not a military alliance. The purpose is to advance cooperation on regional challenges while reinforcing international rules and values that we believe together underpin peace, proseparity, stability in the region.
He added that India and the US must grow the trade relationship and they must remove barriers to expand the partnership.
Blinken arrived in the national capital on Tuesday evening on a two-day visit with an extensive agenda featuring the rapidly evolving security situation in Afghanistan, boosting Indo-Pacific engagement and ways to enhance COVID-19 response efforts among others. It is Blinken's first visit to India after assuming charge as the US Secretary of State and the third by a high-ranking Biden administration official after it came to power in January. US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin visited India in March while US Special Envoy on Climate Change John Kerry travelled to New Delhi in April.
First Published: IST