Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 14
Top US diplomat Stephen Biegun, during his India visit, underscored enhanced cooperation among the Quad countries to create resilient supply chains, promote transparency, and increase maritime security.
In his meetings with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar, Biegun discussed US efforts to work with India and like-minded partners on regional security, economic cooperation and coordinated efforts to address the challenges of the pandemic, stated a US State Department statement.
These topics were most recently discussed in the October 6 “Quad” meeting of Foreign Ministers attended by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well as Jaishankar besides their counterparts from Japan and Australia.
Significantly, Biegun also met with Bhutanese Ambassador to India Major General Vetsop Namgyel to reaffirm the US’ close relationship with the people of Bhutan.
The US diplomat’s conversation with the Bhutanese Ambassador and his arrival in Dhaka soon after concluding his India visit is indicative of the improved equations between the US and India after the Galwan Valley clash with PLA troops in which 20 Indian security personnel laid down their lives.
Sources have pointed out that ever since it became clear that China was malevolent towards India in the neighborhood, New Delhi has been exploring options to work in tandem with other major powers to maintain influence in the neighborhood. India recently welcomed US plans to develop defence ties with Maldives, a move that South Block routinely resisted earlier.
At the India-US Forum on Tuesday, Biegun joined Shringla to underscore the importance of the US-India partnership, particularly in advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific. The Deputy Secretary emphasised the work of the Quad toward a region protected and made prosperous in equal measure by strong and peaceful nations in the Indo-Pacific, said the State Department statement.
Interestingly, the statement did not name China once although before embarking on his India-Bangladesh tour, he had described China as the “elephant in the room” and the US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien had said the time to explore solutions through dialogue with China is over.