Foreign secretary holds productive meeting with US Charge D'Affaires

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New Delhi, Jun 9 (PTI) Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Wednesday held talks with US Charge D'Affaires Daniel B Smith, focusing on ways to combat the coronavirus pandemic including the supply of COVID-19 vaccines and concerns of US-bound Indian students.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said regional issues and cooperation in the United Nations also figured in the 'productive meeting'.

'Foreign Secretary @harshvshringla had a productive meeting today with US Acting Ambassador Daniel B. Smith @USAmbIndia about India-US relations, regional issues & cooperation in the UN; also discussed Covid19 situation, supply of vaccines & cooperation in combating the pandemic,' Bagchi tweeted.

It is understood that Shringla mentioned in the meeting the growing concerns among those Indian students who have taken the Covaxin jab and are planning to travel to the US for studies.

India's COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin is yet to get approval from the World Health Organisation. Concerns of the students relating to visa and travel to the US were learnt to have also figured in the talks.

The meeting came days after US Vice President Kamala Harris called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi and apprised him about the Biden administration's plans to make COVID-19 vaccines available to India and several other countries.

Following the phone conversation, the Ministry of External Affairs said the two leaders discussed ongoing efforts to strengthen the health supply chain between the US and India, including in the area of vaccine manufacturing.

Last week, President Joe Biden announced that the US would allocate 75 per cent -- nearly 1.9 crore of the first tranche of 2.5 crore doses -- of unused COVID-19 vaccines from its stockpile through the UN-backed COVAX global vaccine sharing programme to countries in South and Southeast Asia as well as Africa.

Recently, the Charge D'Affaires of the US embassy had said the US was looking at joint production of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccines in India and ways to help manufacturers like the Serum Institute of India to boost production.

As India was facing a rapid increase in coronavirus infections, the US sent six planeloads of life-saving supplies in support of the country's fight against the pandemic. PTI MPB DIV DIV