Antony Blinken, US President-elect Joe Biden’s closest foreign policy adviser, has been nominated for Secretary of State.
What will be the Biden-Blinken approach to India?
India a “High priority relationship”
On July 9, Blinken spoke at the Hudson Institute, Washington DC. “Strengthening and deepening the relationship with India is going to be a very high priority.”
“During the Bush administration, then Senator Biden partnered with that administration to help get the peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement, the 123 agreement through the United States Senate, usually important to solidifying our relationship,” Blinken said.
Blinken talked about the Biden administration making India a “major defence partner”. This is a major new statement on defence.
Paris Climate Change Pact
“Having sort of set that foundation and made the relationship stronger, guess what? We then worked hard to persuade India that it would be more prosperous and more secure if it’s signed on to the Paris Climate Agreement. We succeeded… It was a challenging effort but Vice President Biden was one of the leaders of the effort to convince our partners in India and they did. I think that’s a reflection, again, of the fact that we cannot solve common global challenges without India as part of the deal,” Blinken said.
Kashmir & CAA
Blinken flagged concerns on the human rights situation in Kashmir and the Citizenship Amendment Act.
India leading role in UN
On August 15, Blinken again participated in a panel discussion on Indo-US ties and flagged the issue of UN reforms. “In a Biden administration, we would be an advocate for India to play a leading role in international institutions and that includes helping India get a seat on a United Nations Security Council,” he said.
“We have a common challenge which has to deal with an increasingly assertive China across the board, including its aggression toward India…I think you’d see Joe Biden as president investing in ourselves, renewing our democracy, working with our close partners like India, asserting our values and engaging China from a position of strength. India has to be a key partner in that effort,” he said.
Blinken also addressed New Delhi’s concern of cross-border terrorism, without naming Pakistan. “We would work together to strengthen India’s defence and also I might add its capabilities as a counterterrorism partner.”
Biden’s vision 2020
Blinken quoted Biden from 2006 — just before he was going to take charge as the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2007-2009 — “My dream is that in 2020, the two closest nations in the world will be India and the United States.”