Mint Explainer: What transpired at the Jaishankar-Blinken meeting?

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington DC on September 28 (Photo: AP)
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department in Washington DC on September 28 (Photo: AP)


  • While the two diplomats may have discussed Canada’s allegation against India in private, there was no mention it in the joint statement they released

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his American counterpart, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, held a bilateral meeting during Jaishankar’s ongoing visit to the United States. In the runup to the meeting, all eyes were on how the US would deal with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegation that India was involved in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a pro-Khalistan figure in Canada. Mint breaks down the developments.

What did the two diplomats discuss at the meeting?

“Secretary Blinken and External Affairs Minister Jaishankar discussed a full range of issues, including key outcomes of India’s G20 presidency, and the creation of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor and its potential to generate transparent, sustainable, and high-standard infrastructure investments. The secretary and the external affairs minister also emphasized the continued importance of cooperation ahead of the upcoming 2+2 Dialogue, in particular in the areas of defense, space, and clean energy," said spokesperson Miller after the bilateral meeting in Washington on Thursday.

What does this say about the US position?

While Jaishankar and Blinken may have discussed the Canadian allegations in private, it is significant that no mention of the issue was made in the joint statement or in Blinken's communications after the incident. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he had been assured that Blinken would bring up the matter with Jaishankar.

The lack of a direct mention of the issue may indicate that America doesn’t wish to upset India by challenging it publicly on the matter. Quiet diplomacy seems to be America’s method of dealing with the rift between two of its allies. India may welcome this, and Canada has also chosen to moderate its stance. Trudeau has emphasised the importance of building closer ties with India as it continues its economic and political rise.

What was the background to the meeting?

Since Trudeau accused India of involvement in Nijjar’s killing, both sides have reached out to key diplomatic allies such as the United States, United Kingdom and Australia to shore up support. India has categorically denied Canada’s accusations. While the matter was reportedly not raised during the Quad Foreign Ministers meeting in New York earlier in the week, it was expected that the Jaishankar-Blinken meeting would be a key event to gauge which way the US and other key allies were leaning on the India-Canada dispute.

What is America's position on Canada’s allegations?

Thus far, Washington has tried to tread a fine line by calling on India to cooperate with Canada without fully supporting Trudeau’s allegations. The State Department continued this policy prior to the Jaishankar-Blinken meeting in Washington. “It was a meeting of a number of countries and it did not come up in that meeting. But we have engaged with our Indian counterparts on this issue and urged them to fully cooperate with the Canadian investigation," said State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller, when asked if Blinken raised Canada’s allegations with Jaishankar during the Quad Foreign Ministers meeting in New York.

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