COVID-19: Pompeo speaks with his counterparts from India, Australia, Brazil, Israel and S Korea

India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, and United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper at the 2+2 Strategic Dialogue of the two nations in Washington on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. (Photo: State Dept./IANS)

Washington, Aug 8 (PTI) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has spoken with his counterparts from five key partners and allies, including External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, on the collective fight against the coronavirus pandemic, according to his spokesperson.

This was Secretary Pompeo’s second call with Jaishankar in as many days.

Pompeo and his counterparts discussed the importance of continued close coordination in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, State Department Spokesperson, Morgan Ortagus said in a readout of the calls with foreign ministers of India, Australia, Brazil, Israel, and South Korea.

“They noted the importance of close cooperation to reopen our economies and counter disinformation, while also addressing the need for concerted efforts to prevent future pandemics,” Ortagus said on Friday.

Jaishankar and Pompeo have maintained regular contact with each other during the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over seven lakh lives and infected nearly 19 million people worldwide. The top two diplomats have spoken over phone at frequent intervals, at times on a weekly basis.

India and the United States have enhanced their co-operation bilaterally and also with their key allies and partners like Australia, Brazil, Israel, Japan and S Korea on a host of issues including the collective efforts against coronavirus.

Prominent among them include ensuring supply of personal protective equipment, medical supplies, and essential drugs. They have also been coordinating on the issue of research on a vaccine for COVID-19 and therapeutics for the deadly disease.

Pompeo spoke over phone with Jaishankar on Thursday. He spoke separately with the Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Locsin, according to a readout of the call.

During their wide-ranging conversation on Thursday, the two leaders shared assessments on regional and global issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic, Indo-Pacific and Quadrilateral coalition.

Reviewed our bilateral cooperation including working of relevant mechanisms. Shared assessments on regional and global issues including South Asia, Afghanistan, Indo-Pacific & beyond, Jaishankar wrote on Twitter.

Exchanged views on responding to the coronavirus challenge. Discussed meeting in the Quad format in the near future, Jaishankar said in another tweet.

India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China’s rising military maneuvering in the region.

Beijing claims almost all of the 1.3 million square mile South China Sea as its sovereign territory. China has been building military bases on artificial islands in the region also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Beijing has impeded commercial activity like fishing or mineral exploration by countries like Vietnam and the Philippines, claiming that the ownership of territory belonged to China for hundreds of years.

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