Blinken wants India to work for fair polls, freedoms and Afghanistan stability

Web DeskWeb Editor

29th Jul, 2021. 05:51 pm

NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, in a short and maiden visit to India assured to work together for stability in Afghanistan, however, asked India to stand for free media, independent courts, a vibrant and fair electoral system. He raised up issues of democratic principles, human rights and freedom during the consultations.

“Peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific are as important for both of us as democratic stability in Afghanistan,” Blinken said at a joint media conference with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, though he did not mention China during the entire trip.

There are published reports, that US sent a strong message to China after Blinken met some of the key representatives of the Tibetan resistance movement in New Delhi and held a separate meeting with Ngodup Dongchung, representative of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and key figure in the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) or the Tibetan government-in-exile. During these meeting he stressed the need to have a rules-based order within the Indo-Pacific strategic construct.

Addressing a roundtable Blinken said: “at a time of rising global threats to democracy and international freedoms — we talk about a democratic recession — it’s vital that we two world-leading democracies continue to stand together in support of these ideals.”

With civil society groups, Blinken discussed issues concerning the Citizenship Amendment Act and the ongoing farmers’ protests among others even as he raised issues concerning democratic principles, human rights, and freedom while meeting Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, agencies added.

Blinken said:  “the relationship between our two countries is so important and so strong because it’s a relationship between two democracies and at its core, our relationship is between our peoples… We talk about these issues as friends.”

“Freedoms are important; we all value them but never equate freedom with non-governance or lack of governance or poor governance. They are two completely different things,” he said.

‘Quad is not a military alliance’

At the media conference, Blinken clearly said the Quad (grouping between US, India, Japan and Australia) is “not a military alliance”.  “Its purpose again is to advance cooperation on regional challenges while re-enforcing international rules and values that we believe together underpin peace, prosperity and stability in the region,” he said.

The US, under the Joe Biden administration, had outlined in its first days of coming to power that it is serious about the Quad even as it organised a virtual Quad Summit meeting among the leaders of the member countries in March 2021.

 

Worsening Afghanistan situation

On the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, both sides agreed the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban must continue for stability in that country, admitting the situation there is “deeply troubling”.

Blinken said while the US may be withdrawing its troops from there, the country “will remain very much engaged” in Afghanistan in support of the Ashraf Ghani government.

“An Afghanistan that does not respect the rights of its people, an Afghanistan that commits atrocities against its own people would become a pariah state,” he said.

Blinken also raised issue of Afghanistan during his meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

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