Introductory phone call between Jaishankar and Blinken soon: MEA

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New Delhi, Jan 28 (PTI) An introductory phone call between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his American counterpart Antony Blinken will be scheduled soon and it will be an 'important' opportunity to discuss the bilateral as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest, a senior Indian official said on Thursday.

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 respectively.

'As a new US administration takes shape we continue to remain engaged at all levels to work together to further strengthen our comprehensive global strategic partnership,' External Affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at a media briefing.

He said Jaishankar has already congratulated Antony Blinken on his appointment as Secretary of State.

'The introductory phone call between the two will be scheduled soon at a mutually convenient time. It will be an important opportunity to discuss the bilateral as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest,' he added.

Srivastava was replying to questions on India's engagement with the US under the leadership of Biden who was sworn in as the 46th American President on January 20.

'The prime minister had congratulated President Biden on his election on November 8 and they had a telephone call on November 17 where they exchanged views on working together on shared priorities and global challenges,' Srivastava said.

Referring to the phone call between Singh and Austin, he said they reiterated the commitment to deepen the ongoing defence cooperation between the two countries.

A read out by the Pentagon on Wednesday said Secretary Austin emphasised the US Defence Department's commitment to the US-India major Defence Partnership, observing that it is built upon shared values and a common interest in ensuring that the Indo-Pacific region remains free and open.

'Secretary Austin noted the great strides made in the US-India defence relationship, and he pledged to work collaboratively with the Defence Minister to sustain progress,' it said.

In his talks with Sullivan, Doval underscored that India and the US were uniquely positioned to work closely on regional and international issues including combating the scourge of terrorism.

'NSA Doval underscored that as leading democracies, with an abiding faith in an open and inclusive world order, India and the US were uniquely positioned to work closely on regional and international issues including combating the scourge of terrorism, maritime security, cyber security and peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond,' the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday. PTI MPB GSN GSN GSN