Today News Online Service
New Delhi, April 26
The US led by its President Joe Biden turned on the charm offensive a day after promising to rush emergency supplies of vaccine raw material and medical assistance to India.
On the other hand, China’s state-run Sichuan Airlines suspended its cargo flights to India for 15 days to insulate its people from the virus. Terming the logic as “unscientific”, sources said this was the second time China had done so.
The stoppage of flights by China due to the alleged risk of Covid will hit small-scale businessmen sourcing medical equipment for sale in India.
“We will have to work on this and find viable ways around this ban,” said sources while confirming talks for a substantial package on commercial terms. Japan also promised to extend assistance following a phone call between PM Narendra Modi and his counterpart Yoshihide Suga. PM Modi will hold a virtual summit with the EU on May 8 to discuss Covid support and cooperation.
The government is also negotiating for large tranches of medical assistance from Russia, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Singapore. Some supplies have started landing such as oxygen concentrators from the US, cryogenic oxygen containers from Singapore and oxygen transport tanks from Germany.
With Biden taking the lead, Vice-President Kamala Harris, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Surgeon General Vivek Murthy tweeted their solidarity with India and highlighted the decision to rush raw material for Indian manufacture of vaccines, besides ventilators, therapeutics and oxygen concentrators. A day earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken too had tweeted in solidarity with India while NSA Jake Sullivan spoke to Ajit Doval.
The full-court charm offensive was intended to take the edge of intense criticism in India and elsewhere over the US disrupting the supply chains. This attitude was in contrast to the joint pledge by the Quad countries to “address financing and logistical demands for production, procurement, and delivery” of vaccines.