High-level officials to push India-US agenda set by Modi, Biden

By Arul Louis
New York, Oct 9 (IANS)
High-level officials will be working to move forward the agenda for cooperation set at last month’s meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden and their Quad summit with the leaders of Australia and Japan, according to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
“At this point, the focus is going to be on continuing to work through high-level interlocutors, whether it’s the Secretary of State and leaders at the State Department or leaders from our national security team, about how we can continue to move forward on a range of issues, whether it’s economic security, physical national security, addressing Covid and getting the pandemic under control,” she said on Friday.
Replying to a question at the daily White House briefing about several meetings between officials of the two countries that have taken place and are scheduled, Psaki said the bilateral meeting and the Quad summit with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia and Yoshihide Suga, who was the Japanese leader at that time, were “an opportunity to discuss the importance of the relationship and the partnership, the work that can be done moving forward”.
“That work will continue at lower than leader-level, but still high levels in the weeks and months ahead,” she added.
The US-India Defence Policy Group (DPG) co-chaired by India’s Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and Colin Kahl, the US Under Secretary for Defence Policy, met on Friday to advance bilateral priorities and explore expanding cooperation in the Indo-Pacific with other countries, according to the Pentagon.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Growing cooperation between the two countries on security, trade and cooperation with the Quad on providing Covid vaccines figured in their talks.
Finance Minister Nirmala Seetharaman is expected to visit the US during the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank next week and use the opportunity to meet top American officials.
In the area of cooperation against terrorism, the India-US joint working group on counter-terrorism is to meet in the last week of this month and homeland security dialogue is also on the cards.
The meetings will lead up to the 2+2 dialogue between Jaishankar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Asked at her briefing about 80,000 Green Card spots that could have gone to Indians being lost this month because of procedural delays, Psaki said: “The president absolutely wants to address the delays in the green card processing system as well.”
(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in and followed @arulouis)

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