Blinken looks forward to meeting Jaishankar to discuss COVID-19, Quad cooperation: State Dept spokesperson

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar

By Reena Bhardwaj

Washington DC [US], May 25 (ANI): The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is looking forward to meeting External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar to discuss various issues, including COVID-19 efforts and strengthening of Indo-Pacific cooperation through the Quad, according to the US State Department spokesperson.

"The Secretary looks forward to meeting Minister Jaishankar during his visit, and to discussing a broad range of issues, including COVID-19 relief, efforts to strengthen Indo-Pacific cooperation through the Quad, enhanced UN and multilateral cooperation, and a range of other shared regional security and economic priorities," the spokesperson said.

EAM Jaishankar on Sunday landed in New York, as part of his weeklong US visit, to meet with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday New York.

Ambassador of India to the UN TS Tirumurti received EAM Jaishankar on his first visit to New York after India entered the UN Security Council.

"Privilege to receive External Affairs Minister @DrSJaishankar on his first visit to New York after #India entered the UN #SecurityCouncil on 1 January 2021," Ambassador Tirumurti tweeted.

Jaishankar's US visit is slated to last till May 28, the External Affairs Ministry said last week.

He will also be meeting Cabinet members and Senior Officials of the Administration dealing with the bilateral relationship. "External Affairs Minister will have two interactions with business forums on economic and COVID-related cooperation between India and the US," said the ministry statement.

India is engaged in talks with various US entities involved in Covid vaccines production and is looking forward to procuring and subsequently producing these vaccines. The issue of vaccine procurement is expected to be a key agenda item during Jaishankar's interaction with US leadership and other stakeholders.

The US has already announced that it is going to distribute 80 million vaccines from its stockpile to countries in need.

With India hit badly by the second Covid wave, efforts of New Delhi will focus on getting the maximum and also looking for tie-ups with vaccine developers to produce in India.

US has a stockpile 60 million Astra Zeneca vaccine doses and also Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

US is playing a lead role in assisting India's fight against the COVID-19 virus. It has already provided large oxygen plants, concentrators, critical medicines like Remdesivir and also raw materials for vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India (SII), which is manufacturing Covishield.

US is also backing India sponsored proposal on TRIPS waiver at the WTO.

The TRIPS waiver aims to increase global vaccine production in order to take on the challenge of vaccinating the poorest of the poor and save lives.

In October last year, India and South Africa, along with 57 members of WTO proposed a waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS agreement for prevention, containment, and treatment of the coronavirus. EAM Jaishankar met his US counterpart Antony Blinken in early May in London during G7 Foreign Minister's meeting. (ANI)

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