Saturday Jul 24, 2021
WASHINGTON: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will raise human rights issues with officials in India when he visits the country next week, a senior State Department official said on Friday.
Dean Thompson, the department's acting assistant secretary for South and Central Asian affairs, told reporters that the United States has shared values with India on the matter of human rights, however.
It will be Blinken’s first visit to the world’s largest democracy as President Joe Biden’s secretary of state and he will meet on Wednesday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
Blinken will also visit Kuwait at the end of his July 26-29 trip.
On Blinken’s agenda will be “Indo-Pacific engagement, shared regional security interests, shared democratic values, and addressing the climate crisis” as well as the response to the coronavirus pandemic, the State Department said.
Blinken is also likely to discuss plans for an in-person summit of the so-called Quad. The grouping of India, Japan, Australia and the United States is seen as a counter to China’s rising influence.
Asked on a call with reporters how high on the agenda human rights would be, given a citizenship law introduced by Modi’s Hindu nationalist party that critics say discriminates against Muslims, Thompson said the United States “will raise it.”
“We will continue that conversation, because we firmly believe that we have more values in common on those fronts than we don’t,” he said.