External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday. Calling Covid-19 pandemic and vaccines as one of the most important aspects of his discussions with top officials of the Biden administration, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. Officials said that the endeavour is to expand the production of vaccines in India with assistance from the United States. Jaishankar, 66, is the first Indian Cabinet minister to visit the US under the Biden administration.
“The primary focus of the visit obviously was on the relationship with the new administration. It is a very important relationship. Also, to engage with the senior cabinet members here,” he told a group of Indian reporters here on Friday as he concluded most of his engagements.
“There was also of course the COVID-19 context because of the vaccine partnership between India and the US, and also Quad-based discussions on vaccines. That was also one of the important subjects. In fact, in many ways, I would say the most important subject of my discussion,” the minister said.
Responding if vaccine production is jammed in India, EAM in Washington, DC said, “But we in India, myself personally & MoS Pharmaceuticals and many of our senior officials, we fairly do video conferences with industry.”
In the literal way that’s something that only the producer can answer. But we in India, myself personally & MoS Pharmaceuticals & many of our senior officials, we fairly do video conferences with industry: EAM in Washington, DC when asked if vaccine production is jammed in India pic.twitter.com/PhslmMXM0G— ANI (@ANI) May 29, 2021
“President Biden himself had said that US would be willing to send out a certain number of vaccines. He also referred to it, so those are ready to use vaccines. We have indicated a willingness to import vaccines and accept vaccines that have been cleared by the US FDA,” EAM said.
“At a policy level, there was a discussion about such possibilities, but this is a decision the administration has to make. I presume they will make the decision at the time when they are ready to make that decision,” he added.
Jaishankar met Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, US Trade Representatives Katherine Tai and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines over the past two days. He also held meetings with top officials from about a dozen departments of the administration. He also spoke with co-chairs of India Caucus, and Chairman and Ranking Member of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Jaishankar said he also met with business leaders in a meeting organised by the US India Business Council and US India Strategic and Partnership Forum, during which one of the key topics of discussion was related to COVID-19.
“Apart from that, there was a lot of business interest on what is happening with COVID-19. How is it moving? What could be its economic impact? All this matters to a lot of people who have invested in India, who have employees in India,” he said.
The external affairs minister had also attended a series of meetings at the United Nations. “If I were to sort of describe the objectives, one, of course, was to come here and express our appreciation for the very strong solidarity that the United States has shown during the second wave of COVID-19 in India, and to work with the US on the vaccine production issue, because the US in terms of the supply chain, for vaccines, is absolutely indispensable,” he said. “You would have seen even in my tweets, in many meetings, that an issue in some form or the other came up, and our endeavour is to expand our production of vaccines in India we will work with the US to make that possible,” he told the group of Indian reporters.
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