By Reena Bhardwaj
Washington [US], May 29: External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar on Friday (local time) appreciated US solidarity and cooperation in dealing with India's second wave of COVID-19.
During a press briefing in Washington, Jaishankar's remarked, "If I were to describe objectives, for one, of course, was to express our appreciation for the solidarity, very strong solidarity that was shown during the second COVID-19 wave in India and to work with the US on the vaccine production."
Talking about the US supply chain for vaccines, he said that US is indispensable for vaccine production. "We are looking to expand our production for vaccines in India and that's something we work with the US to make that possible," added Jaishankar.
He also emphasised upon the importance of physical meeting between the administrators of the two countries. "I pointed out to engage with the new US administration because of contemporary challenges, convergence and many important issues. So, for the last, I mean, since January, many of our meetings have been conducted, We have been talking on the phone, video conferencing. It was important to have a physical meeting," said the EAM.
As per Jaishankar, the primary focus of US visit was to engage with the major senior cabinet members of US in the backdrop of COVID-assistance and the vaccine partnership between India and the US.
"That is very important, important subjects, in fact, in many ways, the was the most important subject," said Jaishankar.
President Joe Biden had earlier said that the United States would be willing to send out a certain number of vaccines. India was also referred in it. White House had announced that US will be sending 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries starting from June 2021.
India had indicated a willingness to import vaccines and to accept vaccines which was cleared by the US FDA.
"I presume they will make the decision at the time when they are ready to make that decision. But beyond that, it's not for me, you know, it's their vaccines and it's their decision which is for them to make," said Jaishankar.
"There are ongoing conversations on the regulatory side, on the legal side, on the commercial side, and on the supply chains, these are going on between companies concerned and entities with the authorized people in India," added Jaishankar.
In many cases, the embassis, the ambassadors are personally dealing with the companies that manufacture vaccines or companies that are part of the supply chain.
"I must really commend the embassy,the ambassador, enormous effort they have put in and the very large number of companies, they have reached out to ensure that the vaccine supply chain is smooth," said Jaishankar.
Jaishankar who is on a five-day US visit, the first official trip since President Joe Biden took office in January met several US officials to focus on "India-US vaccine partnership aimed at expanding access and ensuring supply."
He met Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Trade Representative Katherine Tai and 13 other departments and organizations, comprising of treasury, energy, commerce, USAID representatives, and DHS.
"The Congress, the House was not in session. So, what I did was, I had conversations with the caucus Chairman, I actually met Brad Sherman and I met with the India Caucus as well as the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Chair, Ranking Member and few others," said Jaishankar.
Regarding the US global task force on COVID-19 and business propositions, Jaishankar said, "There is a global task force in the US, which has contributed to work with us on COVID related issues. So, I had engaged with via video conference when I was in India. Apart from that there was a lot of business interest on, you know, what's happening with this COVID causes moving what could be its economic impact, this matters to investors in India or employees in India. I did meetings both to the US Business Council, as well as the US in strategic partnership." (ANI)