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Jaishankar and Blinken meet in Rome to discuss Quad and Covid vaccine partnership

Photograph tweeted by External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar (Photo: MEA)

Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in Rome, Ito discuss the next steps for  making India a global base for making vaccines and how to work together to counter political turbulence in the Indo-Pacific region.

Besides, the two top diplomats exchanged notes on fighting climate change, as part of deepening the US-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership.

Jaishankar tweeted, saying that he had a very good meeting with Blinken, "Discussed a wide gamut of issues relating to our partnership. Updated each other on important regional concerns".

In a statement, US Spokesperson Ned Price said: “Secretary Blinken and Minister Jaishankar discussed a range of issues, including efforts to strengthen Indo-Pacific cooperation through the Quad and expand cooperation on common regional priorities.  Secretary Blinken and Minister Jaishankar also discussed cooperation on expanding global access to COVID-19 vaccines, elevating climate ambition at COP26, and reinforcing their mutual commitments to and support for shared democratic values”.

Jaishankar is in Rome with Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the G20 meet. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval too are in Rome.

New Delhi and Washington have upped their engagement in recent times after witnessing increased Chinese provocations in the Indo Pacific region. Also of concern to both countries has been the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan after the US withdrawal and takeover by the Taliban.

The two nations have formed the Quadrilateral with Japan, Australia and Japan to create a power balance with Beijing in the Indo-Pacific region.

In a similar manner, earlier this month, Jaishankar and Blinken held a virtual meeting with the foreign ministers of Israel and the UAE–Yair Lapid and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed–respectively to discuss regional strategic interests and "future opportunities for collaboration in the region and globally."

The West Asian grouping too has been called the second Quad formed by India and the US in a region that is seeing fast-paced developments owing to unforeseen changes in Afghanistan.

India along with the US and other benign democracies also seek to build a stronger world out of the pandemic crisis by strengthening smaller nations through various initiatives. The foremost of these is to improve access to vaccines wherein India can be the frontrunner.

Modi announced in Rome that India is ready to produce over 5 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses next year to help the world battle the pandemic.

Jaishankar and Blinken have held numerous in-person meets this year in London, Washington as well as Delhi. They are likely to meet again for the 2+2 ministerial meeting related to defence and foreign policy.