NEW DELHI: India will host the next round of the 2+2 ministerial meet with the US. The recently concluded fourth round was attended by External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on the Indian side and Secretary of
State Antony J Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J Austin on the US side.
As a prelude to the meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden also had a virtual meeting on Monday. During the course of the ministerial meetings, India specified that its imports of oil from Russia weren't as significant as was being made out to be.
"If you are looking at energy purchases from Russia, I would suggest that your attention should be focused on Europe. We do buy some energy which is necessary for our energy security. But I suspect, looking at the figures, probably our total purchases for the month would be less than what Europe does in an afternoon. So you might want to think about that," Dr Jaishankar said responding to a query on India’s oil imports from Russia.
The Ukraine issue was taken up during the ministerial discussions. "A good part of my meeting with Secretary Blinken went to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine that has many ramifications. Even countries far away are worrying about energy security, food security, commodities prices and logistics disruption," said Dr Jaishankar.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that the US has not decided on imposing sanctions or waivers under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) law, regarding India’s purchase of the S-400 air defence system.
The US acknowledged the fact that India and Russia had traditional and historic ties with each other. It was only recently that India and US became strong bilateral partners, suggesting it is a matter of time when India and US are on the same page on most issues.
Eyebrows were raised by the US on human rights issues. "We regularly engage with our Indian partners on these shared values, and to that end, we’re monitoring some recent concerning developments in India, including a rise in human rights abuses by some government, police and prison officials," Secretary Blinken said.
Meanwhile, bilateral trade between India and US has crossed $113 billion and efforts to further increase it were highlighted. The grouping of India, US, UAE and Israel would further enhance trade.
Both countries called for concerted action against terrorist groups proscribed by the UNSC 1267 Sanctions Committee such as al-Qa’ida, ISIS/Daesh, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT), and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), and Hizb ul Mujahideen. They called on Pakistan to take immediate, sustained and irreversible action to ensure that no territory under its control is used for terrorist attacks. Discussions were also held around Afghanistan and Myanmar and challenges in the South China Sea.