EAM Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Blinken hold telephonic talks, resolve to expand ties

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New Delhi, Jan 29 (PTI) In their first telephonic conversation, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday resolved to 'consolidate and expand' the India-US strategic partnership and reaffirmed commitment to peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

In a tweet, Jaishankar said it was agreed to build on the 'solid foundation' of bilateral ties.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Jaishankar and Blinken appreciated the robust defence and security ties, growing economic engagement, productive healthcare collaboration and strong people-to-people linkages between the two nations.

In a tweet, Blinken said he was delighted to speak to Jaishankar and that they discussed ways to seize new opportunities and combat shared challenges in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

'I was delighted to speak today with my good friend @DrSJaishankar to discuss US-India priorities,' he said.

'We reaffirmed the importance of the U.S.-India relationship and discussed ways we can better seize new opportunities and combat shared challenges in the Indo-Pacific and beyond,' he said.

The MEA said Jaishankar and Blinken agreed to work together to address global issues, including safe and affordable vaccine supply while recognising the challenges of a post-Covid world.

'The external affairs minister and Secretary Blinken expressed their commitment to consolidate and expand the multi-faceted strategic partnership,' it said.

'They appreciated the robust defence and security ties, growing economic engagement, productive healthcare collaboration and strong people-to-people linkages as its important pillars,' the MEA said in a statement.

It said Jaishankar and Blinken also reiterated their commitment to peace and security, especially in the Indo-Pacific region.

The US Secretary of State has already indicated that Washington will stand with the South Asian countries in the face of China's growing assertiveness in the South China Sea region.

'Warm conversation with Secretary of State @SecBlinken. Congratulated him on his appointment. Look forward to working with him again. Agreed that we could build further on the solid foundation of our partnership. Also discussed our efforts at combating the COVID-19 pandemic,' Jaishankar tweeted.

The Joe Biden administration began formal engagement with top Indian leaders on Wednesday with Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan holding telephonic conversation with their Indian counterparts, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and NSA Ajit Doval.

The issue of cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region figured in a telephonic conversation between Austin and Singh on Wednesday.

'The external affairs minister warmly congratulated Secretary Blinken on his appointment and wished him success in his new responsibilities,' the ministry said.

The overall Indo-US strategic ties have been on an upswing in the last few years.

Both India and the US have been expressing concerns over China's growing military assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific as well as in the South China Sea.

Strategic affairs experts believe that common concerns over challenges and threats emanating from China including in the Indo-Pacific is expected to result in expansion of overall strategic and defence cooperation between India and the US under Joe Biden's presidency. PTI MPB SMN SMN