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India pushes for more vaccine supplies as Jaishankar begins US visit

New Delhi, May 24: External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar arrived in New York in the early hours of Monday on a five-day visit to the US.

On his first visit to New York after India entered the UN Security Council on the first day of January 2021, Jaishankar is expected to meet UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The minister then travels to Washington DC, where he will hold discussions with his counterpart, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

He will also be meeting cabinet members and senior officials of the Biden administration dealing with the bilateral relationship.

The External Affairs minister will have two interactions with business forums on economic and Covid-related cooperation between India and the US.

Earlier this month, Jaishankar had traveled to London to participate in the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting, at which India has been invited as a guest country.

Jaishankar’s visit to the US comes at a time when India is facing shortage of vaccine supplies amid the ongoing Covid crisis.

US President Joe Biden had announced last Monday that his administration will send at least 20 million doses of US-authorized coronavirus vaccines abroad by the end of next month.

Ahead of Jaishankar’s visit, Mark Warner, the Senator from Virginia who is also the Chairman of the Senate Intel Committee, met with Indian American community and business leaders in Northern Virginia on Sunday to discuss the Covid-19 crisis in India.

“I’ve urged POTUS to take additional steps to supply medical supplies and surplus vaccines to tackle the crisis,” Warner tweeted after the meeting with the Indian diaspora.

Taranjit Singh Sandhu, India’s Ambassador to the US, is also holding several meetings in a bid to increase the medical and vaccine supplies to New Delhi.

It included an “important conversation” with Stephane Bancel, the CEO of US pharmaceutical giant Moderna, on vaccine and pharma partnerships. Many senior Indian government officials had also participated in the meeting held last week.

On May 20, Sandhu had also had a “fruitful conversation” with Alex Gorsky, Chairman and CEO of the Johnson & Johnson where the duo discussed expanding vaccine production and collaborations with Indian partners.

“Appreciate J&J’s efforts to strengthen India’s response to the pandemic,” the Ambassador had said after the meeting.

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