New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday held wide-ranging talks with his American counter Antony Blinken and gratitude towards the US' strong support and solidarity with India during the COVID-19 pandemic when the country is suffering from 'great difficulty'. Jaishankar became the first Union Minister to visit the US after Joe Biden took charge as the President.

Welcoming S Jaishankar, United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken said that India stood for the US in the early days of COVID-19 and the country will never forget India's support. "Now we want to make sure that we are there for and with India," Blinken said.

Addressing a press briefing, Jaishankar said, "We have a lot of issues to discuss. I think our relations have grown stronger over the years and I'm very confident that it'll continue to do so. I also want to take the opportunity to express to the Secretary, through him to the administration, (and) to the United States for the strong support and solidarity and at the moment of great difficulty (for us),” he said.

Blinken said the US and India are working together on many important challenges of our time. "We are united in confronting COVID-19 together. We are united in dealing with the challenge posed by climate change and we are partnered together directly through the QUAD and other institutions in the United Nations in dealing with many of the challenges that we face in the region,” he said, adding that "the partnership between the US and India is vital, strong, and I think it is increasingly productive".

The Quad is a grouping of the US, India, Japan and Australia that aims at strengthening a rules-based order in the strategically-important Indo-Pacific amidst China's aggressive actions in the region.

Earlier in the day, Jaishankar met US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin during which they discussed further developing strategic and defence partnership between the two countries and exchanged views on "contemporary security challenges". "A warm meeting with US @SecDef Lloyd Austin. A comprehensive conversation about further developing our strategic and defence partnership," he tweeted after the meeting, sharing a photograph of them together.

Meanwhile, after the meet of the two leaders, the US government also has redirected orders of critical vaccine manufacturing supplies, which will allow India to make over 20 million additional doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.

"We've redirected one of our own orders of critical vaccine manufacturing supplies, which will allow India to make over 20 million additional doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine," said the Acting Assistant Secretary Dean Thompson.

He also informed that the US has provided over USD 500 million in COVID-19 relief supplies to India to fight against the pandemic. "In total, the US government, state governments, US companies, and private citizens have provided over USD 500 million in COVID-19 relief supplies to India," said the Acting Assistant Secretary.

 

(With Agency Inputs)

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan