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

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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 importance of finding an 'urgent and effective' global vaccine solution to fight the deadly disease.

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 shortly after the meeting that lasted almost an hour.

Jaishankar's meeting with Guterres comes at a time when India 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.

According to a statement issued by the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, the Secretary General expressed solidarity with the Government and the people of India in their efforts against the recent wave of COVID-19 pandemic.

Jaishankar appreciated the efforts of the Secretary General to facilitate ‘Vaccines for All’.

He and Guterres discussed the need to ramp up global vaccine production through expanded supply chains. 'This was imperative to ensure fairer distribution of vaccines globally in the coming days. The proposal by India and South Africa for TRIPS waiver of vaccine patents can also contribute to greater production and more equity,' the statement said.

Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the UN chief, told PTI that Guterres had a “very good discussion' with Jaishankar. 'They discussed COVID-19, the issue of vaccines and also a number of other peace and security issues in general,' Dujarric said.

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.

Jaishankar apprised the Secretary General of India’s efforts to meet its Paris commitments, enhance renewable energy goals, as well as its leadership role in the International Solar Alliance and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. They agreed that greater ambitions required more resources and greater commitment from the developed world.

Jaishankar outlined India’s priorities for its Presidency of the Security Council in August 2021, including high-level events on Maritime Security and on Technology and Peacekeeping. He underlined India’s strong development partnership with Africa, Small States and Small Island Developing States.

'The Secretary General conveyed his appreciation for the consistent role played by Indian peacekeepers in support of international peace and security,” the statement said, adding that response of the Indian peacekeepers in aiding the people of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo following the volcanic eruption was “recognised”.

Jaishankar also conveyed that India values the Secretary General’s leadership of the United Nations, especially in these challenging times and conveyed India’s support for his candidature for re-election for a second term.

'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.

The Taliban and the Afghan government are holding direct talks to end 19 years of war that has killed tens of thousands of people and ravaged various parts of the country.

India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

'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.

'They shared their concerns about ensuring that the gains of the last two decades in Afghanistan are adequately protected. Countering terrorism and radicalization remain priorities for the entire region. They also discussed recent developments in Myanmar,” the statement from the Indian mission said.

India has condemned the use of violence in Myanmar and said it is cognisant of the serious impact of its political instability and the potential of its spill over beyond borders as it called for a 'greater engagement' by the world.

Myanmar shares an over 1,600 km long unfenced and porous land border with India as well as a maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal.

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.

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

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 AKJ