Secretary Blinken and External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar Before Their Meeting

MODERATOR:  Minister Jaishankar.

EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER JAISHANKAR:  It’s a real pleasure to welcome you back, this time on your first visit (inaudible) Secretary of State.  I am confident that the visit will be a very productive one and that the quality of our discussions will fully reflect the strength of our relationship.

Our bilateral cooperation has vastly expanded in the last few years.  Take today (inaudible) actually all the means of contemporary relevance – our interests are shared, our concerns are similar, and our convergences are strong.  Talks today will provide an updated direction to our colleagues to translate these into practical outcomes.

Responding to the COVID pandemic has added new facets to our growing cooperation in an increasingly multiple (inaudible).  Peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific is as important for both of us as democratic stability in Afghanistan.  Deepening the Quad as a collaborative platform is in our mutual interest, and we must work together even more closely on key contemporary challenges like terrorism, climate change, pandemics, and resilient supply chains.

In democratic societies, it is also natural that legitimate concerns and people’s aspirations will find expression, including in foreign policy.   Our conversations on global issues in a rebalancing world would surely be richer from real exchanges of national experiences and historical perspectives.

Once again, let me say how good it is to see you, Tony.  (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you so much.  It is wonderful to be back in India, although it’s the first time (inaudible) as Secretary of State.  It’s always a great pleasure to meet with you.  We’d have the opportunity to know each other, worked together for many years now going back to the last time I was in government.  And I deeply appreciate the work that we’ve been able to do together and the work that I believe we’re going to do together in the coming months and years. 

And I really couldn’t have said it any better than you just did.  Let me say simply that as we’re looking at it, as the United States sees it, there is not a single major challenge that has an impact on the lives of our citizens, whether it’s COVID-19, whether it’s a change in climate, whether it’s the disruptive impact of emerging technologies, that can be addressed by any one of us acting alone.  There is a greater imperative than ever, I think, on cooperation, coordination, collaboration among countries, especially among countries who share basic perspectives, basic values, and basic interests.  And that is certainly the case with the United States and India. 

I think we’ve seen over the last couple of decades a relationship that has grown stronger and deeper across multiple administrations in both of our countries, and President Biden’s determination is to continue in exactly that direction, to grow it even stronger and even deeper.  We have a lot on our agendas, and I think that’s actually a reflection of the strength of the relationship as it exists already, and you’ve touched on many of them.  So I look forward to getting down to work with you and your colleagues.  Thank you.