External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday held talks on pressing global challenges, amid rising tensions between China and Taiwan following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s high-profile visit to Taipei.
In his opening remarks at the meeting that took place on the margins of an ASEAN conclave in Phnom Penh, Blinken referred to concerns over “challenges” in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and the situation in the Indo-Pacific.
It is understood that the escalating tension between China and Taiwan, especially in the Taiwan Strait, following Pelosi’s visit to Taipei figured in the talks.
China has launched a major live-fire military exercise in the waters around Taiwan in response to Pelosi’s visit to the self-ruled island, triggering global concerns.
The Jaishankar-Blinken meeting also came days after the US killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al-Qaeda leader and a key plotter of the 9/11 attacks, in a drone strike in a Kabul safe house.
“A warm conversation to start meetings on sidelines of ASEAN Ministerial in Phnom Penh. Discussed the ever strengthening India-US relationship and the global situation with US Secretary of State @SecBlinken,” Jaishankar tweeted.
In his opening remarks at the meeting, Blinken said the US and India are strong proponents of the ASEAN centrality in the Indo-Pacific, according to the US State Department.
“We’re both strong proponents of ASEAN centrality. We have a shared vision together for a free and open Indo-Pacific that we work on in so many different ways every single day,” he said.
“And of course, we have some immediate challenges that we’re both concerned with, to include the situation in Sri Lanka, Burma, and a number of other number of other hot spots,” he said.
“So I very much look forward to once again being able to go through a number of these issues with my friend, and then we’ll both head over to our meetings,” Blinken added.
Last month, Sri Lanka witnessed massive political turmoil following mass protests that forced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country.
Veteran leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s new president amid hopes for recovery from economic distress.
The western powers were anguished over the execution of four pro-democracy activists by Myanmar’s military government last month.
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