India a global strategic partner of US, says official

WASHINGTON, Feb 28: India is a global strategic partner of the US which has a wide, broad, deep relationship with the country, the Biden administration has said, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken left for New Delhi to attend a host of key conferences including the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting.
Blinken will also attend a Quad ministerial meeting and hold a bilateral talk with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
“India is a global strategic partner of ours. We have a wide, broad, deep relationship with India. There will be a lot on the agenda in the bilateral relationship and in the multilateral engagements he takes part in on the margins of the G20,” Ned Price, State Department Spokesperson, told reporters at his daily news conference on Monday.
“We share a vision with India of a free and open Indo-Pacific, and India is a key partner of ours bilaterally, in the context of the Quad as well as other international groupings, even as we’ve attempted to stitch together some of the partnerships in which India has been a key player,” he said.
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.
“We’ve spoken quite a bit recently of I2U2, a new partnership that involves India, it involves the UAE, it involves the United States as well. So, there are a number of elements on the agenda, and you’ll have an opportunity to hear from the Secretary as he travels there,” Price said.
After his visit to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, Blinken is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi for a three-day India trip. During his bilateral meetings, both Russia and China are expected to figure in talks.
“You’ve heard very firmly from Prime Minister Modi the belief on the part of the Indian government that this is not an era of war. There are countries around the world, notably Russia, that are challenging the rules-based order, the principles of the UN Charter, the principles of international law, and the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We’ll continue to discuss these issues with our Indian partners. I have no doubt that they’ll be on the agenda for and around the G20,” Price said.
India and the United States, Price said, share a number of important interests, and a number of important values.
“But principally we share a vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. There are countries in the region, namely the PRC (People’s Republic of China), that have posed a consistent and in some ways even a systemic challenge to the vision that we share with India of a free and open Indo-Pacific. Without going into specifics, those issues will certainly be on the agenda at the G20 but also in the bilateral context,” he said. (PTI)