In reflection of growing bilateral ties between India and the US, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday held wide-ranging talks covering the situation in Afghanistan, Indo-Pacific engagements, COVID-19 response mechanism and ways to strengthen regional security.
At a joint media briefing, Blinken said there are few relationships in the world that are more vital than the one between the US and India.
At the same time, he said as the world's leading democracies, "we take seriously our responsibilities" towards freedom, equality and opportunity to all of "our people".
He said actions by India and the US shape the 21st century and beyond, and that is why strengthening partnership with India is one of the top foreign policy priorities of the US.
Referring to Afghanistan, Blinken said both India and the US are committed to the proposition that there is no military solution to the conflict in that country, asserting that there has to be a peaceful resolution that requires the Taliban and the Afghan government to come to the negotiating table.
"We both agreed strongly that any future government in Afghanistan has to be inclusive and fully representative of the Afghan people... Ultimately it has to be an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process," he said.
Blinken said India "has and will" continue to make a vital contribution to Afghanistan's stability and development.
On his part, Jaishankar said that the talks took place at an important juncture when key global and regional challenges needed to be effectively addressed.
"Our bilateral partnership enhanced to a level that it enables us to deal collaboratively with larger issues," he said.
Jaishankar said the issue of the coronavirus pandemic was naturally a particular priority.
"We discussed travel challenges resulting from Covid," he said.
"We looked at Afghanistan, Indo-Pacific and the Gulf region," he added.On Afghanistan, Jaishankar said that the world wishes to see an independent, sovereign, democratic and stable Afghanistan.