Friday, September 17, 2021

Blinken Kicks Off India Visit with Address to Civil Society Leaders | Civil Rights News

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The US Secretary of State will meet with his Indian counterpart and other officials before heading to see Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with his Indian counterpart and other officials on Wednesday before heading to see Prime Minister Narendra Modi as China’s rivals seek to deepen their cooperation and resolve differences.

Blinken, on his first visit to the country since joining US President Joe Biden’s administration, is expected to discuss COVID-19 vaccine supplies, the security situation in Afghanistan and India’s human rights record on Wednesday.

Speaking to a group of civil society leaders at a New Delhi hotel, Blinken said the relationship between the United States and India was “one of the most important in the world.”

Blinken and the US Ambassador to India Atul Keshap at the meeting with civil society leaders at the Leela Palace Hotel in New Delhi. [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

“The Indian people and the American people believe in human dignity and equal opportunity, the rule of law, fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion and belief … these are the fundamental principles of democracies like ours.” , He said.

And, of course, our two democracies are in progress. As friends, we talk about it. “

Attendees included religious leaders such as Geshe Dorji Damdul from the House of Tibet in New Delhi, a cultural center for the Dalai Lama.

At their meetings in New Delhi, Blinken is expected to improve India’s human rights record, as well as a recent religion-based citizenship law deemed widely discriminatory towards Muslims.

Before Blinken’s visit, India’s Foreign Ministry said the country was proud of its pluralistic traditions and happy to discuss the issue with the top American diplomat.

The Modi government has faced accusations that it has cracked down on dissent, pursued divisive policies to appeal to its Hindu nationalist base, and alienated Muslims, the country’s largest minority.

Blinken arrives at Delhi Palam Airport ahead of meetings with his diplomatic counterparts [Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

Blinken is scheduled to have talks with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar later on Wednesday.

“Discussions will focus on regional and global issues of mutual interest, including recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indo-Pacific region, Afghanistan and cooperation at the UN,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Both sides will discuss the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban are rapidly expanding the territory they control following the withdrawal of US troops.

Despite the Taliban’s stated goal of overthrowing the Afghan government, US President Joe Biden has announced that his administration will end its mission in Afghanistan on August 31, after nearly 20 years.

The evolving situation in the Indo-Pacific region in the context of China’s military posture is also high on the agenda, Indian analysts said.

The New Delhi talks are expected to lay the groundwork for a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue summit, which includes Australia, India, Japan and the United States, later this year, Indian media reported.

The group is seen as a regional bulwark against Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

After concluding their meetings in New Delhi, Blinken will travel to Kuwait late on Wednesday.

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