Blinken Positive After Talks With India on China, Middle East

During a Friday press conference, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said talks with Indian officials had been “very productive” as he concluded a 9-day diplomatic tour addressing the Israel–Hamas conflict.On his third visit to India this year, Mr. Blinken was joined by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to meet with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh for the annual “two-plus-two” talks between the countries, which center on defense and security cooperation.“We continue—India and the United States—to deepen our partnership, to deepen our collaboration on everything from emerging technologies to defense to people-to-people ties, as well as our shared diplomacy to try to advance an Indo-Pacific region that’s free, that’s open, that’s prosperous, that’s resilient,” Mr. Blinken said.Mr. Blinken had just returned from South Korea after meeting with G7 foreign ministers in Japan to establish common ground on the Gaza conflict. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (top L) and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa (top R) attend a working dinner as part of their G7 foreign ministers' meetings in Tokyo on Nov. 7, 2023. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)“We appreciate the fact that, from day one, India strongly condemned the attacks of Oct. 7,” Mr. Blinken said. “And as our joint statement makes clear, India and the United States stand with Israel against terrorism.”Mr. Blinken listed what had been the prime objectives of his nine-day diplomatic trip through the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific: “Minimizing harm to Palestinian civilians and maximizing the humanitarian assistance that reaches them; working to prevent the spread of the conflict; focusing on getting hostages home as well as getting American citizens and other foreign nationals out of Gaza; and working to set sustainable, durable conditions for genuinely lasting peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians alike.” China and Russia No other issues were discussed during the press-conference, even though Donald Lu, the top U.S. diplomat for South and Central Asia, made clear ahead of Mr. Blinken’s visit that multiple security-related talking points were on the agenda. This was expected given India’s partnership in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, a security alliance initiated in response to China’s growing economic and military assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.Related Stories11/10/202311/10/2023The first point of interest Mr. Lu mentioned was the strained diplomatic relations between India and China following a 2020 incident where Chinese troops killed 20 Indian soldiers in a long-disputed border area in the Himalayas.India’s long-standing alliance with Russia—currently India’s primary military supplier—was also on the agenda, said Mr. Lu. “Our intention is to encourage more collaboration to produce world-class defense equipment to meet Indian defense needs and contribute to greater global security,” he said.“One of the many discussion points will be our cooperation with India to keep the Indo-Pacific free, open, prosperous, and secure,” he added.In a statement Thursday evening after his arrival in New Delhi, Mr. Blinken praised India’s leadership of the G20 this year.“We’re building on a rather remarkable year of engagement,” he said. “We have not only the strongest bilateral partnership we ever had, but also a regional one and, indeed, a global one.”On Sept. 9, during its New Delhi summit, the G20 announced the India–Middle East–Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), an ambitious multinational rail and shipping project linking India with the Middle East and Europe. An obvious rival to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the project was hailed as an international game changer.Cooperating countries include India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, the European Union—and Israel. A picture taken from the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke rising behind destroyed buildings in the norther-western part of the Palestinian enclave during an Israeli bombing amid the ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas. on Oct. 21, 2023. (Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)Conspicuously absent from the IMEC announcement at the time was China, which has in recent years been forging closer ties with Iran, an overt backer of the Hamas terrorist organization.Almost four weeks after the IMEC announcement, Hamas launched its brutal attack on Israel, killing 1,400 civilians. The ongoing Israeli ground offensive into Gaza has caused internal division amongst many of its allies, casting a shadow over the future success of the IMEC project.

Blinken Positive After Talks With India on China, Middle East

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During a Friday press conference, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said talks with Indian officials had been “very productive” as he concluded a 9-day diplomatic tour addressing the Israel–Hamas conflict.

On his third visit to India this year, Mr. Blinken was joined by U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to meet with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh for the annual “two-plus-two” talks between the countries, which center on defense and security cooperation.

“We continue—India and the United States—to deepen our partnership, to deepen our collaboration on everything from emerging technologies to defense to people-to-people ties, as well as our shared diplomacy to try to advance an Indo-Pacific region that’s free, that’s open, that’s prosperous, that’s resilient,” Mr. Blinken said.

Mr. Blinken had just returned from South Korea after meeting with G7 foreign ministers in Japan to establish common ground on the Gaza conflict.
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 U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (top L) and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa (top R) attend a working dinner as part of their G7 foreign ministers' meetings in Tokyo on Nov. 7, 2023. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (top L) and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa (top R) attend a working dinner as part of their G7 foreign ministers' meetings in Tokyo on Nov. 7, 2023. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

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“We appreciate the fact that, from day one, India strongly condemned the attacks of Oct. 7,” Mr. Blinken said. “And as our joint statement makes clear, India and the United States stand with Israel against terrorism.”

Mr. Blinken listed what had been the prime objectives of his nine-day diplomatic trip through the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific: “Minimizing harm to Palestinian civilians and maximizing the humanitarian assistance that reaches them; working to prevent the spread of the conflict; focusing on getting hostages home as well as getting American citizens and other foreign nationals out of Gaza; and working to set sustainable, durable conditions for genuinely lasting peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

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China and Russia

No other issues were discussed during the press-conference, even though Donald Lu, the top U.S. diplomat for South and Central Asia, made clear ahead of Mr. Blinken’s visit that multiple security-related talking points were on the agenda. This was expected given India’s partnership in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, a security alliance initiated in response to China’s growing economic and military assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.

The first point of interest Mr. Lu mentioned was the strained diplomatic relations between India and China following a 2020 incident where Chinese troops killed 20 Indian soldiers in a long-disputed border area in the Himalayas.

India’s long-standing alliance with Russia—currently India’s primary military supplier—was also on the agenda, said Mr. Lu. “Our intention is to encourage more collaboration to produce world-class defense equipment to meet Indian defense needs and contribute to greater global security,” he said.

“One of the many discussion points will be our cooperation with India to keep the Indo-Pacific free, open, prosperous, and secure,” he added.

In a statement Thursday evening after his arrival in New Delhi, Mr. Blinken praised India’s leadership of the G20 this year.

“We’re building on a rather remarkable year of engagement,” he said. “We have not only the strongest bilateral partnership we ever had, but also a regional one and, indeed, a global one.”

On Sept. 9, during its New Delhi summit, the G20 announced the India–Middle East–Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), an ambitious multinational rail and shipping project linking India with the Middle East and Europe. An obvious rival to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the project was hailed as an international game changer.

Cooperating countries include India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, the European Union—and Israel.

.

 A picture taken from the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke rising behind destroyed buildings in the norther-western part of the Palestinian enclave during an Israeli bombing amid the ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas. on Oct. 21, 2023. (Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)
A picture taken from the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip shows smoke rising behind destroyed buildings in the norther-western part of the Palestinian enclave during an Israeli bombing amid the ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas. on Oct. 21, 2023. (Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)

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Conspicuously absent from the IMEC announcement at the time was China, which has in recent years been forging closer ties with Iran, an overt backer of the Hamas terrorist organization.

Almost four weeks after the IMEC announcement, Hamas launched its brutal attack on Israel, killing 1,400 civilians. The ongoing Israeli ground offensive into Gaza has caused internal division amongst many of its allies, casting a shadow over the future success of the IMEC project.