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Jaishankar meets UN chief in New York, discusses Covid vaccine challenge

External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar with the Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres in New York on Tuesday (Image courtesy: Twitter/S. Jaishankar)

External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar, who is visiting New York, met with the Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres Tuesday night to brainstrom ways to surge vaccine production and ensure its fairer distribution to beat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jaishankar also outlined India’s priorities for its Presidency of the Security Council in August 2021 while discussing the regional challenges in India’s neighbourhood with the UN Secretary General. Emphasizing, ijncluding countering terrorism and radicalization, with a turbulent Afhganistan, awaiting a US withdrawal, as the focus. Te duo also took sotck of the the sition in Myanmar, which is in the throes of violent protests.

Guterres expressed solidarity with the Indian government and the people of India in their efforts against the recent wave of Covid-19 pandemic. India appreciated the efforts of the Secretary General to facilitate ‘Vaccines for All’ and highlighted the need to ramp up global vaccine production through expanded supply chains.

In January, the UN chief had lauded India's vaccine production capacity, labeling it as "one of the best assets the world has today" and appreciated the Narendra Modi government for its 'Vaccine Maitri' initiative which supplied millions of Covid vaccine doses to sevaral countries in the world.

"This was imperative to ensure fairer distribution of vaccines globally in the coming days. The proposal by India and South Africa for TRIPS waiver of vaccine patents can also contribute to greater production and more equity," the EAM said. Jaishankar was refereiing to the joint intiaitive, which has now been endorsed by the United States, to supend intellecutal property rights patents held by Big Pharma companies, to enable mass production of Covid vaccines locally.

Jaishankar underlined India's strong development partnership with Africa, Small States and Small Island Developing States. The Secretary General conveyed his appreciation for the consistent role played by Indian peacekeepers in support of international peace and security. Their response in aiding the people of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo following the volcanic eruption was recognised.

Both also discussed the ongoing global endeavours to address the challenges of climate change. Jaishankar apprised the Secretary General of India’s efforts to meet its Paris commitments, enhance renewable energy goals, as well as its leadership role in the International Solar Alliance and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. They agreed that greater ambitions required more resources and greater commitment from the developed world.