US officials Blinken, Austin to visit India for Indo-Pacific talks
China and the larger Indo-Pacific will be the “key focus points” of the discussions, said an Indian official.
(L-R) US defence secretary Lloyd Austin, US secretary of state Antony Blinken and US president Joe Biden listen as Indian prime minister Narendra Modi speaks during a virtual meeting in the South Court Auditorium of the White House complex April 11, 2022, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
ANTONY Blinken and Lloyd Austin, two top officials of the Joe Biden administration in the US, are set to hold talks with Indian representatives this week that will focus on security challenges in the Indo-Pacific and concerns over China, instead of the ongoing wards in Ukraine and Gaza.
According to a Reuters report, the talks will take place on Friday (10) in New Delhi where Indian external affairs minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and defence minister Rajnath Singh will meet their American counterparts Blinken and Austin, respectively, as part of the so-called “2+2 Dialogue”.
It was launched in 2018 to boost defence cooperation and align the two sides’ policy objectives in the Indo-Pacific region.
Officials also said the current diplomatic spat between India and Canada over the assassination of a Sikh separatist leader is not likely to affect the talks even though Washington has reportedly put pressure on New Delhi to cooperate with Ottawa in the probe into the murder in Surrey in British Columbia in June.
Instead, China and the larger Indo-Pacific will be the “key focus points”, an informed Indian government official said, adding that defence collaboration, including joint development of defence equipment, would also be taken up, the Reuters report added.
India and the US are working on agreements for the latter to supply and manufacture engines for Indian fighter jets, MQ-9 predator drones and semiconductor manufacturing.
Officials also said that the talks would pick up the threads from Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the US in June and president Joe Biden’s trip to India for the G20 summit in September.