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US Deputy Secretary of State Visited India, Here is What Happened

Sherman called the relationship between India and US "indispensable" and said that the two nations are like-minded.

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<div class="paragraphs"><p>US Secretary of State Wendy Sherman with Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla.</p></div>
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Weeks after PM Modi visited the United States, the Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman visited India. On her two day trip to the country, she met with top Indian officials including External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla.

US-India ties have never had more meaning than it they have today.
Wendy Sherman

The Afghanistan Crisis and the role of the US-India partnership in the Indo-Pacific was addressed by Sherman and her Indian counterparts.

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They discussed regional developments, including in Afghanistan, Myanmar, and the People’s Republic of China, and discussed implementing outcomes from the recent bilateral meeting between Biden and Modi and the recent Quad Leaders Summit, a State Department Press release mentioned.

US Deputy Secretary of State Visited India, Here is What Happened
On her visit, Sherman has attended conversations with the Indian press, the US Embassy officials, the India-IDEAS conference, and visited Gandhi Smriti to pay respects to Mahatma Gandhi. She visited the Indian cities of Delhi and Mumbai.

'Will Compete Vigorously with China'

In a session with the US-India Business Council, the Deputy Secretary made some strong statements about the US policy on China and the role of QUAD therein.

She said, "We don’t ask countries to choose between the United States and the PRC (the People’s Republic of China), but we do ask for a level-playing field. We do ask that countries understand that economic coercion is not the way forward to build a strong international economy and a global prosperity and peace and security," while answering questions about the US' relationships in the Indo-Pacific.

Sherman said that the US will share a healthy and cooperative relationship with Beijing but if China tries to undermine the US, the US will compete and not cooperate.

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We'll compete vigorously with China where we should, we will cooperate with China where it's in our interest to do so.
Wendy Sherman at the USIBC

At the joint interaction on 6 October, Sherman also maintained that the US holds a strong network of alliances in the Indo-Pacific that are based on the International rule based order. She also went on to say that the countries in the region have a "shared interest" and that the US and India are like-minded in this regard.

On Afghanistan

The situation in Afghanistan was one of the key focus areas and points of discussion between the diplomats of the two nations during Sherman's visit to India. "India's security concerns are foremost" for the US, the deputy secretary said. "We will always have India's security at the front and centre in our considerations," she added.

After Sherman's meeting with Shringla, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said they discussed issues of regional interest, especially the evolving situation in Afghanistan, as well as developments at the UN, the PTI reported.

The PTI report mentioned that India had made it's concerns with Pakistan's role in the Taliban controlled Afghanistan very clear to the US diplomat.

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Sherman said that she will raise the issue of unimpeded access to Afghanistan with the Pakistani officials in order to allow NGOs to reach out to help. She also reiterated that India should send in help to it's neighbours and attend to the needs of the people of Afghanistan.

The Deputy Secretary said that the US understands the concerns of the spillover of terrorism to its borders and the South Asian region from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and that the two countries would meet shortly for a counter-terrorism joint working group.

The working group is scheduled to meet from 26 October to 28 October, The Indian Express reported.

Sherman maintained that President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and appropriate US departments and agencies have quickly worked on a very robust programme for "over-the-horizon" (OTH) capability for Afghanistan.

The diplomat also stated that likeminded countries and the USA's parameters for Afghanistan are similar to those of India. She said that the Taliban should not only set up an inclusive government but also prevent harboring terrorism on their soil. "We believe the Taliban must act, not just speak words. None of us are in a rush for recognition, let alone some legitimacy. We have to see actions, not just words," she added.

The US and India are absolutely of one mind and one approach when it comes to Afghanistan. And India, as a partner, has been part of a group of many like-minded countries that, all through the evacuation out of Afghanistan and now on an ongoing basis, has been part of a video teleconference every other day, and now every week, where like-minded nations share ideas and perspectives on how to approach the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Wendy Sherman while speaking to Indian Journalists
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On COVID-19 and Other Bilateral Agreements

The Indian-American partnership does not stop at the political borders but also delves into building sustainable energy, and building health infrastructure. Issues related to climate change also found a way into the discussions.

Furthermore, the Deputy Secretary praised India's initiatives of vaccine deployment to other countries and said, "We look forward to working together with India to vaccinate the world, including through the Quad vaccine partnership."

In the post pandemic period, as India and the US seek to maintain healthy rates of growth – we must work together to enhance our trade and investment and contribute to quick global economic recovery through supply chain resilience and diversity; tapping emerging technologies; working towards global health security; and facilitating clean and green technologies and climate finance for developing and vulnerable countries.
Ministry of External Affairs, press release

What Does the MEA have to Say?

There is an organic growth and momentum in the bilateral relations, given the deep stakes and investments in India-US relations by a multitude of stakeholders on both sides" and "this relationship is one of our most important. India considers its relationship with US of paramount importance".
Harsh Shringla at USIBC

The Indian counterparts have shown nothing less than the same amount of enthusiasm for the budding relationship between the two countries. An MEA press release, called India-US ties to have positive results for not just the two countries but for peace ad cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. "Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman’s visit gave us an excellent opportunity to review the outcomes of PM’s visit to the US—and the road ahead," the release added.

(With inputs from PTI, India Today, Indian Express, Hindustan Times, and Zee News)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Edited By :Padmashree Pande
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