Jaishankar meets UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres; discusses vaccine solutions to combat COVID-19

·3-min read

United Nations, May 25 (PTI) External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday held a comprehensive in-person meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and discussed the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and underlined the need the importance of finding urgent and effective global vaccine solutions.

In his first face-to-face interaction with the UN chief since India entered the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member in January this year, Jaishankar also deliberated on regional challenges in India's neighbourhood and said that the countering terrorism and radicalisation remain priorities for the entire region.

'A warm & comprehensive meeting with UN Secretary General @antonioguterres. Discussed the Covid challenge, underlining the importance of finding urgent & effective global vaccine solutions. Critical to ramp up the vaccine supply chain to ensure greater production & fairer distribution,” Jaishankar tweeted after the meeting that lasted almost an hour.

Jaishankar's meeting with Guterres comes at a time when the country is reeling under an unprecedented second wave of COVID-19 and a widening gap between the supply of vaccines and requirement.

Currently, the country is using two 'made-in India' jabs -- Covishield and Covaxin -- to inoculate its billion-plus population and has administered 20 crore doses since launching the world's largest vaccination drive in mid-January. A third vaccine, Russian-made Sputnik V, has been approved by the government and is being used on a smaller scale at present.

In a series of tweets, Jaishankar said he also exchanged views on climate action. 'Greater resources are essential for larger ambitions. Financing will determine our seriousness and credibility,' he said.

He highlighted India's constructive role in UNSC and conveyed priorities of its Presidency in August.

'Maritime Security and Technology for Peacekeeping address the needs of the day,' he said.

Jaishankar said he welcomed the Secretary General’s appreciation of India's peacekeeping operations including at Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo recently. An Indian peacekeepers brigade stationed in Goma is saving lives of civilians stranded in the aftermath of the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in the DRC over the weekend.

'Deliberated on regional challenges in India's neighbourhood. Shared our concerns about ensuring that the gains of the last two decades in Afghanistan are adequately protected,” Jaishankar said.

'Countering terrorism and radicalisation remain priorities for the entire region. Also, discussed recent developments in Myanmar. India values UNSG's leadership of the UN, especially in these challenging times. Conveyed our support for his candidature for a second term,' he added.

Jaishankar was accompanied by India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti and Deputy Permanent Representative Ambassador K Nagaraj Naidu as he arrived at the UN Headquarters to meet the UN chief.

Jaishankar arrived in New York on Sunday evening on his first visit to the US after India entered the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member in January this year. India will assume the Presidency of the Council in August.

On Monday, Jaishankar met officials and diplomats from India’s Permanent Mission to the UN.

'A productive strategy session with @ambtstirumurti and our UN team in New York @IndiaUNNewYork. Confident that India will continue to shape the big debates of our times,” Jaishankar tweeted Monday after the meeting.

From New York, Jaishankar will travel to Washington where he is expected to meet US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

A State Department spokesperson said Blinken and Jaishankar would discuss a wide range of issues, including COVID-19, efforts to strengthen Indo-Pacific cooperation through the Quad, enhanced UN and multilateral cooperation.

'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.

In addition to meeting his counterpart, Jaishankar is scheduled to meet US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, other senior officials of the Biden Administration, influential lawmakers, think-tanks, leaders of the corporate sector and members of the Indian American community. PTI YAS ZH AKJ ZH ZH

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