US Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to the State Department Friday, where the two top diplomats discussed bilateral issues between the US and India.
“The United States and India are working together on so many of the most important challenges of our time and ones that are having a profound impact on the lives of our citizens. And we are united in confronting COVID-19 together, we’re united in dealing with the challenge posed by climate change,” Blinken told the press.
“And we are partnered together directly through the Quad (the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) and other institutions at the United Nations in dealing with many of the challenges that we face in the region and around the world,” he said.
Blinken met with his Indian counterpart as India has crossed another grim milestone with more than 300,000 people lost to the coronavirus, while a devastating surge of infections appeared to be easing in big cities but was swamping the poorer countryside.
The milestone, as recorded by India's Health Ministry, comes as slowed vaccine deliveries have marred the country's fight against the pandemic, forcing many to miss their shots, and a rare but fatal fungal infection affecting COVID-19 patients has worried doctors.
India's death toll is the third-highest reported in the world after the US and Brazil, accounting for 8.6% of the nearly 3.47 million coronavirus fatalities globally, though the true numbers are thought to be significantly greater.
Pakistan's health ministry on Friday reported the detection of the first case of an Indian variant of coronavirus.
That's prompted authorities to trace those who were in contact with the patient who tested positive for the Indian variant.
Health officials also reported the presence of South African variant in seven COVID-19 patients in the country. No other information was shared by the government and it was unclear how people with Indian and South African variants ended up reaching this Islamic nation.
The Indian variant is considered more transmissible by some health experts. Pakistan already banned travels to and from India in April to avoid the spread of the variant.