New Delhi: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday met India’s civil society leaders and said that the two countries share a commitment to preserve democratic values as it is a bedrock of the bilateral relationship.
Blinken who is on his first visit to India will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar on Wednesday
This is Blinken’s first visit to the country since assuming charge as Secretary of State.
“I was pleased to meet civil society leaders today. The US and India share a commitment to democratic values; this is part of the bedrock of our relationship and reflective of India’s pluralistic society and history of harmony. Civil society helps advance these values,” Blinken tweeted.
Human Rights issue is one of the top issues that the two countries will discuss during Blinken’s visit.
Ahead of his visit, the Indian side had indicated that it is prepared to engage with the US on issues relating to human rights and democracy after a senior Biden administration official said that Blinken will raise these matters with Indian leaders.
“With respect to the human rights and democracy question, yes, you’re right; I will tell you that we will raise it, and we will continue that conversation because we firmly believe that we have more values in common on those fronts than we don’t,” said the US acting assistant secretary for South and Central Asian affairs Dean Thompson.
During his visit, Blinken is expected to discuss issues related to boosting defence ties between the two countries, the situation in the Indo-Pacific, and the Covid-19 response, especially on vaccines.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin visited India in March while US Special Envoy on Climate Change John Kerry travelled to New Delhi in April.
Blinken also held a telephonic conversation with newly appointed Nepali PM Sher Bahadur Deuba on Tuesday and discussed issues related to bilateral relations including cooperation on the fight against COVID-19 and the effects of climate change.
“I had the pleasure to speak with Nepali Prime Minister Deuba today. We discussed the advancement of the US-Nepal partnership including cooperation on our shared fight against COVID-19 and the effects of climate change,” the top American diplomat tweeted.
With inputs from PTI