NEW DELHI :
Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar on Monday spoke to his US counterpart Antony Blinken on Afghanistan, the agenda of the UN Security Council which India has joined as a non-permanent member on 1 January this year and health cooperation.
“Spoke to my US counterpart Secretary of State @SecBlinken this evening. Conversation covered recent developments in India’s immediate and extended neighbourhood. Exchanged views on the UNSC agenda. Also discussed issues pertaining to our health cooperation,” the minister said in a Twitter post.
The reference to “immediate and extended neighbourhood” would cover Pakistan, Afghanistan and also China, analysts said. However it was not clear which all countries came up in the conversation, one of those cited above said. Given that Blinken had visited Afghanistan last week amid plans for the US to pull out all its troops in the country by 11 September this year, the subject is likely to have come up, one of the analysts said.
Blinken, who met with Afghan leaders in Kabul and NATO allies in Brussels last week, said al-Qaeda, which carried out the attacks two decades ago, “has been significantly degraded.”
In an interview to ABC News, Blinken said that withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan tied in with the Biden administration’s goal of focusing resources on China and the covid-19 pandemic.
“The terrorism threat has moved to other places,” Blinken said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “And we have other very important items on our agenda, including the relationship with China, including dealing with everything from climate change to covid. And that’s where we have to focus our energy and resources,” he added.
India is among the countries that have been included in talks at the UN to find a solution to the long-drawn civil war in the country according to a proposal put forth by the US.
According to the Twitter post, Jaishankar also spoke to Blinken about health cooperation between the two countries. Earlier on Monday, Jaishankar told Indian industry that he was speaking to his counterparts in some “big” countries in a bid to unblock the supply of ingredients required for the manufacture of covid-19 vaccines in India.
The US had in February invoked the Defence Production Act, which helped its pharmaceutical firms procure the material they needed to boost vaccine production. But under the act, firms US government approvals to export raw materials. The US government can stop the companies from exporting them. A report in the Economist magazine had said that India’s vaccine production will grind halt in weeks if the US does not provide the ingredients.