The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken may pay a visit to India next week, according to reports published by multiple news portals. Blinken would be the second senior official from Biden’s White House to travel to India after Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin visited the country in March 2021.
According to news agency PTI, the main thrust of the visit would be on preparing the ground for an in-person summit of Quad leaders later this year in Washington DC. The Quad comprises – US, Australia, Japan and India and is aimed at countering the rising Chinese dominance and muscle-flexing in the Indo Pacific region.
The fast-paced developments in Afghanistan are also expected to be an important talking point between Blinken and his Indian counterpart EAM S Jaishankar. The two countries have shared anxieties over the rapid takeover of several districts and border crossings by the Taliban that has raised concerns over the survival of the Kabul government and the Afghan peace process.
Other possible issues of discussion include the increasing assertiveness of China and cooperation on ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Foreign minister S Jaishankar had visited the US in May this year to ensure the supply of raw materials for the manufacturing vaccines in India. In March 2021, the Quad countries had agreed to a Quad vaccine initiative under which India would produce a billion vaccine doses to be exported to countries in the Indo-Pacific.