New Delhi, March 2
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had raised human rights issues and the banning of US NGOs in India during his meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar here on Thursday.
“We discussed upholding of human rights issues with India. We regularly engage and encourage our Indian counterparts from India to uphold their own commitment to democracy and human rights. We do the same thing. In most conversations with Jaishankar, this is an issue we discuss as we did today,” said Blinken when asked by a US correspondent whether there are rising concerns in Washington over India’s alleged democratic backsliding and persecution of religious minorities.
Blinken said as the world’s two biggest democracies, “we have to work together to show that our democracies can deliver to people’s needs and uphold values that include respect for human rights and freedom of religious belief”.
Asked about funding restrictions on American NGOs operating in India, Blinken said the issue had been taken up in the past. “We have had discussions about the importance of NGOs in civil society and that they be allowed to function effectively and freely here and in the US,” he said.
During his India visit last June, Blinken had alleged “a rise in human rights abuses” in India though during his 2021 India visit he had said “both of our democracies are works in progress”. But with India taking an independent line on the Ukraine war, the US administration has been trying to use human rights issues as leverage against India.
Quad foreign ministers to meet today
India will host a meeting of Quad Foreign Ministers on Friday which will focus on the overall situation in the Indo-Pacific. The meeting will be presided over by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and attended by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, who is especially flying over for the event having sent his deputy to attend the G20 meet.
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