Washington, DC – US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman concluded her first visit to India and Pakistan (October 5-8) since being sworn in as Deputy Secretary. Her visit followed Indian Prime Minister Modi’s recent visit to the US.
In New Delhi, the Deputy Secretary called on the External Affairs Minister Dr. Jaishankar, National Security Advisor Mr. Ajit Doval, and met with Foreign Secretary Mr. Harsh Vardhan Shringla. She engaged in substantive discussions on the situation in South Asia, including recent developments in Afghanistan, the need to counter cross-border terrorism, and ensure peace and stability. Both sides focused on containing the COVID-19 pandemic through the Quad vaccine partnership to make vaccines available to the Indo-Pacific region; building resilient supply chains; and easing international travel. Discussions included cooperation on climate and clean energy, emerging technologies, the importance of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region and reaffirmation of commitment to implement the positive and constructive initiatives of the Quad as announced at the recent Leaders’ Summit.
In Mumbai the Deputy Secretary had meetings with business leaders, and visited the Western Naval Command where she met Vice Admiral R. Hari Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding in Chief.
In a State Department briefing, spokesperson Ned Price commented that India is an important geopolitical partner, and characterized Deputy Secretary Sherman’s visit as “an opportunity for the United States to deepen our strategic partnership with India, a partnership that affords opportunities for both countries and a partnership that is incredibly important to us as we seek to underscore and to underline a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Speaking in Mumbai, the Deputy Secretary said that her visit to Pakistan was “for a very specific and narrow purpose. We don’t see ourselves building a broad relationship with Pakistan, and we have no interest in returning to the days of a hyphenated India-Pakistan.” The Deputy Secretary said that we all need to monitor the situation in Afghanistan and be of one mind in the approach to the Taliban. “We all need to make sure that we have the capabilities that we need to ensure everybody’s security, including India’s of course. And so, I’m going to have some very specific conversations, continuing conversations that Secretary Blinken has had,” she added.
Afghanistan was at the top of the agenda in the Deputy Secretary’s discussions in Pakistan, including holding the Taliban accountable to their commitments, and ensuring a “stable and inclusive Afghanistan that does not serve as a safe harbor for terrorists.” She said that the US will continue working together with Pakistan to support human dignity, including the rights of women, children and minorities, for the Afghan people and for people everywhere. The two sides also discussed the climate crisis, geoeconomics and regional connectivity, and ending the COVID-19 pandemic.