Washington: A Biden administration would be an advocate for India to play a leading role in international institutions, including helping it get a seat on a reformed UN Security Council, a top campaign official has said, asserting that New Delhi has to be a key American partner in engaging China from a position of strength.

A Biden administration will also have no tolerance for terrorism in South Asia, according to former diplomat Tony Blinken, who is now a top foreign policy advisor to Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate.

Participating in a panel discussion on “US-India Relations and Indian Americans in Joe Biden Administration'”, Blinken said on Saturday that the former vice president, if elected in the November elections, will help India get a seat at the UN Security Council and strengthen US’ defence ties with India.

“I think you’d see Joe Biden as president investing in ourselves, renewing our democracy, working with our close partners like India, asserting our values and engaging China from a position of strength. India has to be a key partner in that effort,” Blinken said in response to a question from former US Ambassador to India Richard Verma.

The top campaign official was asked that the world has witnessed increasing Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific, including along the Indian border and India faces real threats from cross border terrorism, and how would the US in a Biden administration support India in these challenges.

“During the Obama administration, we worked very hard to establish India as a key contributing member of the Indo-Pacific strategy. That includes India’s role in working with likeminded partners to strengthen and uphold a rules-based order in the Indo Pacific in which no country, including China can threaten its neighbours with impunity.

“That role needs to extend even beyond the region, as vast as it is the world at large. In a Biden administration, we would be an advocate for India to play a leading role in international institutions. That includes helping India get a seat on a reformed United Nations Security Council,” Blinken responded.

“We would work together to strengthen India’s defence and also I might add its capabilities as a counterterrorism partner. On the question of terrorism, specifically, we have no tolerance for terrorism, in South Asia or anywhere else: cross border or otherwise,” he said.

During the Obama Administration, he said, he was in various meetings of the National Security Council on this issue.

“We used every tool at our disposal to make sure that our citizens and the citizens of our partners were safe and that’s something we would build on in a Biden Administration,” Blinken said.

Former Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal said that the US-India partnership was vitally important as the defining partnership for 21st century as the Obama administration characterised it.

“You cannot have a deep, trusted partnership between the United States and India, if you deeply disrespect the people of India and people of Indian origin. Peoples’ ties are so fundamentally important in all of the different ways in which this relationship really is set apart. Without that, without those ties between our peoples, then it’s really just a transactional relationship to achieve a means to an end, so to speak,” Biswal said.

She was responding to a question on the recent steps taken by the Trump administration with regard to H-1B visas that has an impact on a large number of Indian technology professionals.

In June, President Donald Trump banned the entry into the US of workers in several key non-immigrant visa categories, including the H-1B until the end of the year, arguing that they eat into American jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those affected include the family members of the H-1B, L-1, and certain categories of J1 visas.

However this week, the Trump Administration announced certain exemptions in H-1B and L-1 travel ban for those continuing employment with the same employer, a move that could help Indian IT professionals and those working in the healthcare sector.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

“US India partnership is not just a means to an end. It is actually fundamentally a whole of society partnership between our people, our educational institutions, our academic universities, our businesses, and our cultural fabric of both countries. The successive waves of immigrants from India to the US shores have been an important aspect of America’s economic, political, and social fabric,” she said.

Ajay Bhutoria, who is on the National Finance committee for Joe Biden, said that he is in this fight to restore the soul of “our nation for all of Americans and Indian Americans”.

“Over 20 years as an entrepreneur in the Bay area, I have reached that dream and work to make sure it’s there for others in our community. That’s what led me to help Vice President Biden and Dr. Biden on their Free Community College An initiative that has helped so many immigrants and young people get an education and a good job,” he said.

Source: PTI