Blinken's 1st India visit: Afghan, Quad, Covid to be major topics

Washington: Expanding the US-India cooperation on security, defence and counterterrorism and matters like the situation in Afghanistan, Quad, COVID-19 and climate change will be on top of the agenda of Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his maiden trip to India next week, according to a senior American official.

Blinken is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi late on July 27. He is scheduled to attend a full slate of engagements on July 28.

During his stay in the country, he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. The Ministry of External Affairs said in New Delhi that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval will also meet Bilinken.

In the Secretary's meetings with Prime Minister Modi and External Affairs Minister Jaishankar, the senior State Department official on Friday said they expect the discussions to focus on ways to further deepen the bilateral partnership, which is very broad in scope, as well as increased convergence on regional and global issues.

"Our bilateral discussions with our Indian partners will focus on expanding our security, defence, cyber, and counterterrorism cooperation," Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Dean Thompson told reporters during a conference call on Blinken's visit.

"We collaborate across the government on these issues, including through regular US-India working group meetings, and we look forward to further strengthening our ties with India to ensure a safer and more secure world," he said.

To that end, Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin look forward to hosting their Indian counterparts for the annual US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue later this year, he said, without giving specific details of the dialogue.

"On regional issues, we intend to discuss our efforts to support a just and durable peace in Afghanistan," Thompson said.

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