US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday (local time) said that US and India worked together not only for the benefit of both the countries but also for the Indo-Pacific region and beyond during the pandemic.
"(During) COVID-19, the work that we have done together, has not simply been to the benefit of both of our countries, it has increasingly been to the benefit of countries throughout the Indo- Pacific region and beyond," he said at Howard University for India-US Education Collaboration.
Blinken and External Affairs Minister (EAM) Dr S Jaishankar interacted with Indian students, scholars, and researchers who have worked in the United States, and US students, scholars, and researchers who have studied, worked, or conducted research at higher education institutions in India. Speaking about the Quad partnership, he said: "Quad partnership that we put together was able to donate 500 million vaccines. If we are not working together with other countries even if we did everything right at home-if virus keeps percolating out there somewhere and new variants develop, one of the variants may come back and bite us," he said.
India and the United States have reaffirmed their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific following the fourth India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue held in Washington. India and the US held the 2+2 ministerial meeting in Washington with the Indian side led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and the American side led by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday. In a joint statement on the fourth India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, the ministers recalled the inaugural virtual Quad Leaders' Summit in March 2021, the in-person Quad Leaders' Summit in September 2021 in Washington, and the February 2022 Quad Foreign Ministers' meeting in Melbourne. Both sides stated that they are "looking forward to the next Quad Leaders' Summit in Tokyo in 2022".
Meanwhile, Jaishankar underlined the transformation in India-US ties in the last two decades and said that a key driver in this change has been the human element which includes 4.4 million Indian diaspora that has defined India's image in the US society. "Howard University is not just a part of a shared past. It is very much part of the future that awaits us. As we contemplate that, a big part and role in that will be played by the relationship between the two countries and that relationship has undergone a real transformation in the last two decades whether it is our strategic or security cooperation or our economy or technology partnership, it is making its weight felt increasingly in world affairs," Jaishankar said in the presence of Blinken.
The minister noted that a key driver in this change has been the human element. "The 4.4 million Indian diaspora has literally defined our image in this society and helped forge relationships that are an enormous source of strength for us," he said. "At its centre are students, academics, and professionals who have contributed to America's progress even as they remained a bridge between the two societies," he added. Speaking about the India-US connect, Jaishankar said the most powerful symbol of the ties is the inspirational bond between Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Martin Luther King Junior.
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"That bond was forged through the relationship with Howard Thurman, the dean of the chapel and later by Dr William Stuart Nelson who was the dean of the school of the religion," he added. For India-US ties to grow, Jaishankar said that it is necessary that there is a better understanding of India and the world, on the part of young Americans. This event was seen as an opportunity to build off Monday's announcement during the 2+2 Ministerial of the formation of a 'Working Group on Education and Skill Training.'