External Affairs Minister Jaishankar In US; Covid Vaccines For India, Neighbours On Agenda

External Affairs Minister Jaishankar In US; Covid Vaccines For India, Neighbours On Agenda

May 25, 2021, 7:24 a.m.

External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar is on a five-day visit to the United States (May 24-28). Jaishankar will be in New York till May 26 and then move to Washington DC for his bilateral meetings with the administration. He arrived in the US late Sunday evening (New York time).

Jaishankar will be visiting the United States from May 24-28, 2021. In New York, he is expected to meet UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. This is his first visit to the UN during India's non-permanent membership, so it would be an opportunity to discuss in detail New Delhi's approach to the UNSC agenda.

In Washington DC, Jaishankar will hold discussions with his counterpart Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the MEA said in a statement.

"In Washington DC, the External Affairs Minister will hold discussions with his counterpart Secretary of State Antony Blinken. He will also be meeting Cabinet members and Senior Officials of the Administration dealing with the bilateral relationship," the MEA said in a statement.

While New Delhi is engaged with the US firms and the administration in procurement and production of the vaccines, it is going to top Jaishankar's agenda on this visit, say sources.

While seeking vaccines for India, the minister will also push the issue of paucity of the drug in the Indian subcontinent. Bangladesh and Nepal were sent batches of vaccine from India, but now as their population waits for the second dose, the scarcity and alarming situation in India does not allow New Delhi to send them the batch for the subsequent dose.

The larger perspective would be to engage the United Nations Security Council and meet United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York, who had criticised rich countries for stockpiling Covid-19 vaccines.

"The latest moral outrage is the failure to ensure equity in vaccination efforts," Guterres told a ministerial-level meeting of the Human Rights Council on 22 February.

"Just ten countries have administered 75 per cent of all Covid-19 vaccines. Meanwhile, more than 130 countries have not received a single dose. Vaccine equity is ultimately about human rights. Vaccine nationalism denies it. Vaccines must be a global public good, accessible, and affordable for all," he said.

There are other UNSC related issues that would be dealt with and meetings that Jaishankar will attend said a source.

On Wednesday, the External Affairs Minister will be in Washington DC for bilateral meetings with his counterpart and also engage the business community.

"External Affairs Minister will have two interactions with business forums on economic and Covid-related cooperation between India and the US," the MEA said in a statement.

US President Joe Biden announced five days ago that the US will begin shipping 20 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson's Covid-vaccines to needy countries by June-end, in addition to 60 million shots of AstraZeneca. But which country will be given how much has not been spelled out.

Jaishankar's visit in Washington DC will focus on procurement and production of vaccines. He will also engage the business community on the medical aspects of tackling Covid-19 in India. While there were reports that the minister could be meeting vaccine manufacturers during the visit, there is no confirmation of such meetings.

Source: India Today

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