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Blinken dials Jaishankar to bolster Indo-Pacific Quad ties as China threat looms

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar hold talks to bolster ties amid China threat (Courtesy: US State Department website)

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a telephonic discussion on strengthening India-US relations including the Indo-Pacific Quad grouping to counter China's belligerent posturing in the region. The discussion was a sequel to the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden held earlier.

A statement by US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that Blinken and Jaishankar discussed regional developments, cooperation over the Indo-Pacific, the Quad grouping, addressing the challenges brought upon by Covid-19 and climate change.

Blinken highlighted the conversation on Twitter, saying: "Our partnership with India across the Indo-Pacific is critical to addressing challenges we face in the region and globally. @DrSJaishankar and I had a fruitful discussion about ways to strengthen our cooperation to address regional developments, including the situation in Burma."

Jaishankar, too, tweeted: "Welcomed the comprehensive discussion today with @SecBlinken. Reviewed Indo-Pacific developments and Quad cooperation. Exchanged views on the situation in Myanmar. Look forward to remaining in touch."

The high-level discussions between India and the US are happening even as they plan to hold the first meeting under Biden's presidency of the four-member Quad – the US, India, Japan and Australia. The grouping is apprehensive of China's aggressive moves in the region impinging upon the sovereignty of many countries in the neighbourhood.

Price told the press briefing that the US looks upon India as "one of the most important partners in the Indo-Pacific region" and said it welcomes its emergence as leading global power.

He added: "India is one of the most important partners in the Indo-Pacific region to us. We welcome India's emergence as a leading global power and its role as a net security provider in the region." The US has also welcomed India joining the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as a non-permanent member.

Mentioning the issues that bring the two countries closer, Price said: "We cooperate on a wide range of diplomatic and security issues, including defense, non-proliferation, regional cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, counter-terrorism, peacekeeping, environment, health, education, technology, agriculture, space and oceans and that list is not exhaustive."

The United States is closely monitoring the border face-off between India and China and supports a peaceful resolution through direct dialogue, but at the same time will stand by its allies and partners like India, the State Department indicated on Tuesday.

“We note the ongoing talks between the governments of India and China,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a news briefing.

“We continue to support direct dialogue and a peaceful resolution of those border disputes…We are concerned by Beijing’s pattern of ongoing attempts to intimidate its neighbors. As always, we’ll stand with friends, we’ll stand with partners, we’ll stand with allies.”