India, US believe in fundamental freedoms: Antony Blinken
New Delhi, July 28: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is on a maiden two-day visit to India with with focus on security situation in Afghanistan, boosting Indo-Pacific engagement and ways to enhance COVID-19 response efforts, among others.
Speaking to a group of civil society leaders at a New Delhi hotel, Blinken said that the relationship between the United States and India was "one of the most important in the world".
"The Indian people and the American people believe in human dignity and equality of opportunity, the rule of law, fundamental freedoms including freedom of religion and belief . . . these are the fundamental tenets of democracies like ours," he said.
"And of course, both of our democracies are works in progress. As friends we talk about that," he added.
During his visit, Blinken would meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval and External Affairs Minister, Dr. S Jaishankar.
The focus of the visit would be to prepare grounds for an in-person summit of leaders of the Quad grouping comprising India, Japan, Australia and the US in Washington later this year.
Blinken would be the second high-ranking Biden administration official to visit India since it came to power in January. US Defence Secretary Lloyd J Austin paid a three-day visit to India in March to further boost bilateral defence and security ties.
The evolving situation in the Indo-Pacific region in the wake of China's increasing military muscle-flexing has become a major talking point among leading global powers. Several countries and blocs have come out with their vision for the Indo-Pacific considering its growing strategic interests.