External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan during which they held wide-ranging discussions and agreed that people-to-people ties and shared values are the foundation of the US-India strategic partnership that is helping to end the pandemic, supporting a free and open Indo-Pacific and providing global leadership on climate change.
Jaishankar, the first Indian Cabinet minister to visit the United States under the Biden administration, met Sullivan on Thursday. "Pleased to meet NSA Jake Sullivan. Wide-ranging discussions including on Indo-Pacific and Afghanistan. Conveyed appreciation for US solidarity in addressing the Covid challenge. India-US vaccine partnership can make a real difference," Jaishankar said in a tweet after the meeting.
"Our people-to-people ties and our values are the foundation of the US-India partnership and will help us end the pandemic, lead on climate, and support a free and open Indo-Pacific," Sullivan wrote on Twitter after the meeting.
The US government and Americans across the country have delivered over USD 500 million in COVID-19 relief to India.
"We will beat this pandemic together," Sullivan tweeted.
During the meeting, Sullivan and Jaishankar welcomed the cooperation in recent weeks that resulted in deliveries of over USD 500 million in COVID-19 relief supplies from the US federal and state governments, US companies and private citizens across America for the people of India, said Emily Horne, Spokesperson of the National Security Council, White House.
"They discussed a range of regional and global issues and agreed that the United States and India should continue working closely together to address common challenges throughout the Indo-Pacific region.
"They agreed that people-to-people ties and shared values are the foundation of the US-India strategic partnership that is helping to end the pandemic, supporting a free and open Indo-Pacific, and providing global leadership on climate change," she said.
India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China's growing military manoeuvring and aggression in the region.
The Chinese military is also actively eying the strategic Indian Ocean region to step up Beijing's influence. China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea.
In 2017, India, Australia, Japan and the US gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the 'Quad' or the Quadrilateral coalition to counter China's aggressive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific region.
Jaishankar is scheduled to meet Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday. Jaishankar also held an important meeting with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai to discuss a wide range of bilateral trade issues.
The minister described it as good discussions. "Welcomed her positive stance on IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) issues & support for efficient and robust supply chains," he said in a tweet after the meeting.
Early this month, Tai, after consultations with various stakeholders, had announced support to the move by India and South Africa to waive certain IP aspects of COVID-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization (WTO). This step is likely to help in a big way in the fight against the pandemic that has claimed the lives of over 3,507,000 people across the world.
"Our trade, technology and business cooperation are at the core of our strategic partnership. Enhancing them is vital to post-Covid economic recovery," Jaishankar said in another tweet.
According to the latest quarterly official data, India is the top ninth trade partner of the United States in goods and services. The total bilateral trade between India and the US from January to March this year was USD 24.8 billion.
According to the Department of Commerce, US exports of goods and services to India supported an estimated 1,98,000 jobs in 2015 (the latest available data) -- 82,000 supported by goods exports and 1,16,000 supported by services exports.
Jaishankar also had meetings with the top American business leadership hosted by the US India Business Council and the US India Strategic and Partnership Forum.
Jaishankar also met influential American lawmakers from both the Democratic and Republican parties and discussed developments about Quad and the cooperation on vaccines with them.
He tweeted that he had "good conversations" with co-chairs of the House India Caucus, Congressman Brad Sherman and Rep. Steve Chabot.
"The US Congress has been a tremendous pillar of support as India meets the Covid challenge," Jaishankar tweeted.
He also held a meeting with Chairman House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Gregory Meeks and Ranking Member Rep. Michael McCaul.
"Discussed developments pertaining to Quad and our cooperation on vaccines. Recognize their leadership in building stronger ties," the minister tweeted.
Jaishankar also met the Director of National Intelligence in the Biden administration, Avril Haines. "Glad to meet DNI Avril Haines. Look forward to working closely together to address contemporary security challenges and advance our strategic partnership," he tweeted.