Blinken in India for talks on China, Israel

AFP , Friday 10 Nov 2023

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin held talks Friday in New Delhi, seeking to bolster India as a regional counterweight to China and win backing for its position on the Israeli war on Gaza.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi, India, 10 November, 2023. AFP


Blinken and Austin joined Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and defence minister Rajnath Singh for annual "two-plus-two" talks, which India said would focus on defence and security cooperation.

"We are promoting a free and open, prosperous, secure and resilient Indo-Pacific," Blinken said, highlighting the sharing of maritime satellite data that helped to combat illegal fishing, piracy, and drug trafficking.

"In the face of urgent global challenges, it's more important than ever that the world's two largest democracies exchange views, find common goals, and deliver for our people," Austin said during opening remarks.

Indian FM Jaishankar spoke of "developing our strategic partnership" and praised a "new chapter in our relationship" following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Washington in June, and US President Joe Biden's trip to Delhi for G20 talks in September.

Blinken's visit to India is the last stop in a marathon trip that has included South Korea, a G7 foreign ministers' meeting in Japan, which sought to find common ground on the Israeli war in the Gaza Strip, and a whirlwind tour of the Middle East.

The Israeli war on Gaza poses a major challenge to hopes of a key trade and transport route linking Europe, the Middle East and India, unveiled during the G20 talks in September.

India is part of the Quad alliance alongside the US, Australia and Japan, a grouping that positions itself as a bulwark against China's growing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.

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