India and USA, two of the world’s biggest democracies, should do more to strengthen their democratic institutions, said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken today (June 28), adding that every democracy is a work in progress, on his two-day visit to India.
While addressing a group of civil society leaders at a New Delhi hotel, the first meeting on his itinerary, Blinken said that the relationship between the United States and India was “one of the most important in the world”. He went on to add that the Indian people and the American people believe in human dignity and equality of opportunity, the rule of law, fundamental freedoms including freedom of religion and belief . . . “these are the fundamental tenets of democracies like ours”.
I was pleased to meet civil society leaders today. The U.S. and India share a commitment to democratic values; this is part of the bedrock of our relationship and reflective of India’s pluralistic society and history of harmony. Civil society helps advance these values. pic.twitter.com/5NL2WiQ13o
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) July 28, 2021
Blinken told civil society groups that the US and India are “connected by shared values” such as rule of law and freedom of religion. “Shared values – freedom and equality – are key and none of us have done enough. We need to strengthen our democratic institutions. This is at the core of our relationship, beyond strategic and economic ties,” Blinken added, said a NDTV report.
“Both of our democracies are works in progress. As I said before, sometimes that process is painful. Sometimes it’s ugly. But the strength of democracy is to embrace it,” said Blinken, who is on his first visit to India after assuming charge as the US Secretary of state. He is the third high-ranking official to visit New Delhi after Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in March and Special Envoy on Climate Change John Kerry in April.
In his tweet, he said, “I was pleased to meet civil society leaders today. The U.S. and India share a commitment to democratic values; this is part of the bedrock of our relationship and reflective of India’s pluralistic society and history of harmony. Civil society helps advance these values”.
The situation in Afghanistan, ways to boost Indo-Pacific engagement, regional security concerns and a coordinated COVID-19 response are key issues that the US secretary of state Antony Blinken will discuss with Indian interlocuters during his two-day visit to India. The COVID-19 discussions will focus on ensuring maintaining consistent supply chains for materials and items required for producing vaccines.
After his meeting with the civil society groups, Blinken held closed-door discussions with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and spoke on a range of bilateral and regional issues, including the security situation in Afghanistan. The details of the meetings were not released to the media.
In his meeting with External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, however, Blinken said they had discussed regional security issues including Afghanistan. “India and US share strong interest in a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan. As a credible partner in the region, India has and will continue to make vital contribution to Afghanistan’s stability and development,” he said, adding that America will remain engaged in Afghanistan despite withdrawing their forces.
Afghanistan would be pariah state if Taliban take control by force
“We have not only a strong embassy there but also have important programmes that support the country economically through development and security assistance,” he pointed out. There can be no military solution to the (Afghanistan) conflict, and Taliban and Afghan government need to come to the table. The future government has to be inclusive and fully representative,” Blinken reiterated.
“Afghanistan would be ‘pariah state’ if Taliban take control by force,” added Blinken. On Quad, Blinken said that it is not a military alliance. “Its purpose is to advance cooperation on regional challenges while reinforcing international rules and values that we believe together underpin peace, prosperity, stability in the region,” he said.
Blinken will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi today before travelling to Kuwait on the next leg of his tour.
Blinken’s visit is an opportunity to “continue the high-level bilateral dialogue and bolster the India-US global strategic partnership”, the external affairs ministry said last week while announcing the visit. “Both sides will review the robust and multifaceted India-US bilateral relations, and potential for consolidating them further,” added the ministry.