Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla calls on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Visit precedes a possible trip by Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Washington D.C:  Following his visit to New York where he chaired a meeting of the Security Council, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla arrived in Washington for meetings with officials including one with his counterpart Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. The Foreign Secretary’s visit to the city precedes a possible month-end visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mr Shringla and Ms Sherman held “substantive discussions on advancing the India-US Strategic Partnership across sectors including healthcare, defence & security, trade & investment, S&T [science and technology], climate change, clean energy and people to people ties,” Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in a tweet.

The U.S. readout of the meeting between the two diplomats included, as discussion topics, "continued coordination on Afghanistan” and “strengthening Indo-Pacific cooperation through the Quad.”

Mr Shringla also met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken , with whom he discussed bilateral ties and Afghanistan, Mr Bagchi wrote.

Mr. Shringla’s delegation included Joint Secretary (Americas) of the Ministry of External Affairs Wani Rao and Joint Secretary (International Cooperation) from the Ministry of Defence Somnath Ghosh, both of whom led the Indian side at the India-U.S. 2+2 inter-sessional on Wednesday. The U.S. side was led by Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo Pacific Affairs Ely Ratner and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Ervin Massinga.

Bilateral Agenda

“Both sides took stock of the progress and developments in the bilateral agenda under the India-US strategic partnership, including defence, global public health, economic and commercial cooperation, science and technology, clean energy and climate finance, and people to people ties,” an MEA statement said.

The inter-sessional included a discussion on strengthening multilateral cooperation among the U.S., India and “other like-minded partners”, according to a statement from the Pentagon.

“The U.S. and Indian officials exchanged views on a range of regional issues of shared interest, including in South Asia, East and Southeast Asia, and the Western Indian Ocean and identified opportunities for enhanced cooperation on maritime security, regional connectivity, counterterrorism and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” the statement said.

Indian Ambassador in Russia D.B. Venkatesh Varma (in pic) said that there were specific defence and national security considerations that led India to conclude the contract for the supply of S-400s.

The two sides had committed to “driving greater interoperability” between their militaries and operationalising bilateral initiatives on “information-sharing, logistics, defence industrial cooperation and joint doctrine engagement through liaison exchanges,” the Pentagon said.

Prior to his Thursday engagements at the State Department, Mr. Shringla had dinner with U.S. officials including Ms. Sherman at India House, the official residence of India’s Ambassador to the U.S., Taranjit Singh Sandhu, as per a tweet from Mr. Sandhu.

Others present at the dinner included Laura Rosenberger, Senior Director for China on the Biden National Security Council; Chief of Staff to Presidential Climate Envoy John Kerry; Uzra Zeya who is Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights; Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Bonnie Jenkins and Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment Jose Fernandes.

Possibility of Modi’s Visit

Wednesday’s inter-sessional precedes the annual 2+2 ministerial dialogue, slated to be held in Washington later this year. Also on the cards is the possibility of Mr. Modi visiting Washington for bilateral discussions with U.S. President Joe Biden and a summit level meeting of the Quad, following his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 25.

The in-person visit of Mr. Modi depends heavily on the ability of Japanese Premier Yoshihide Suga to do so. His attendance is not a given, with Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) scheduled to hold its leadership election on September 29.