External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday held wide-ranging talks with his counterpart Antony Blinken and thanked the Biden administration for its "strong support and solidarity" with India at a moment of "great difficulty" for the country in combating the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Jaishankar, who is on an official trip to the US, is the first Indian Cabinet minister to visit the country since Joe Biden became US President on January 20.
Blinken said in the early days of COVID-19, India was there for the US, something which the country "will never forget".
"Now we want to make sure that we are there for and with India," he said.
Addressing reporters at the State Department, Jaishankar said, "We've a lot of issues to discuss. I think our relations have grown stronger over the years and I'm very confident that it'll continue to do so. I want to express our gratitude to the administration and US for strong support and solidarity at the moment of great difficulty for us."
Blinken said the US and India are working jointly on many important challenges of "our time".
"We are united in confronting COVID-19 together," he said.
"The partnership between the US and India is vital, strong, and I think it is increasingly productive," Blinken added.
Earlier in the day, Jaishankar met US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin during which they discussed further developing strategic and defence partnership between the two countries and exchanged views on "contemporary security challenges".
"A warm meeting with US @SecDef Lloyd Austin. A comprehensive conversation about further developing our strategic and defence partnership," he tweeted after the meeting, sharing a photograph of them together.
Jaishankar further said they exchanged views on "contemporary security challenges".
The two leaders are expected to have discussed the situation in the strategic Indo-Pacific region where China has been increasingly flexing its military muscles.
(With PTI inputs)