Blinken and Jaishankar discuss need to ensure freedom of navigation in Red Sea: US

| | Washington
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Blinken and Jaishankar discuss need to ensure freedom of navigation in Red Sea: US

Saturday, 17 February 2024 | PTI | Washington

Blinken and Jaishankar discuss need to ensure freedom of navigation in Red Sea: US

Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in Germany discussed the need to ensure freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, highlighting how the US and India play important roles in safeguarding economic stability in the volatile region.

The two leaders met on Friday on the sidelines of the prestigious Munich Security Conference in the German city.

“Blinken and Jaishankar discussed the need to ensure freedom of navigation in the Red Sea,” State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a readout of the meeting.

Blinken highlighted that the respective US and Indian approaches to maritime security in the Red Sea are mutually reinforcing and play important roles in safeguarding economic stability in the region, he said.

They also discussed ongoing work to ensure lasting peace and security in the Middle East, Miller said.

Since November, Yemen's Houthi rebels have targeted ships in the Red Sea to demand a ceasefire in Israel's war with Hamas.

The bilateral meeting took place weeks after the US agreed to supply 31 armed MQ-9B Predator drones to India and two months after the unease between the two sides over an alleged plot to kill Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on US soil. India has already constituted a high-level probe committee to investigate US allegations.

“Great to meet my friend US @SecBlinken this afternoon on #MSC2024 sidelines. Our talk centred on the situation in West Asia, Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific. Reviewed the continuing progress in our bilateral ties,” Jaishankar said on X and posted a photo of the meeting which showed the leaders sitting across a table along with officials from the two sides.

“We have an extraordinary partnership between the United States and India that has grown stronger and stronger in recent years, stronger than it's ever been, and it is for us among the most consequential relationships of any in the world,” Blinken said as he addressed reporters along with Jaishankar after the meeting.

The top US diplomat said the two countries are “working closely” on a whole host of vital priorities that “are making a difference in the lives of people in India and people in the United States” and listed them as increasing mutual prosperity, advancing democracy and human rights, addressing climate change and upholding together the rules-based international order.

Jaishankar said it's important today that the very complicated issues be addressed effectively and “the conflict does not escalate.”

“And, of course, a whole host of other issues – issues in this part of the world, issues in the Indo-Pacific – that we need to talk about. Very glad to have this opportunity,” he said.

Blinken's remark summed up the mood of the meeting as well as the Indo-US relationship:

“This work is not just the work of a day or a single meeting, it's the work of every day, but it's important to be able to take stock of where we are as well as the many challenges that we're facing, India and the United States together, both in the region and in the world.”

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