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Home >News >India >'Obligation to right historical wrongs': Jaishankar tells Blinken on govt's policy decisions

Indian democracy is powered by its free-thinking citizens and the US applauds the country as a "force for good" in defence of a free and open Indo-Pacific as well as for a free and open world, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday after holding talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on a range of pressing issues.

"There are few relationships in the world that are more vital than the one between the United States and India. We are two of the world's leading democracies, and our diversity fuels our national strength," Blinken said at a joint media briefing with Jaishankar at the end of the talks.

The US Secretary of State said his country looks at India through the prism of shared democratic values and that there are challenges that can be "ugly" which needed to be dealt with "openly".

"I think one of the elements that Americans admire most about India is the steadfast commitment of its people to democracy, to pluralism, to human rights, to fundamental freedoms. That's, in our minds, one of the ways that we define India. And we see ourselves reflected in that, and it's in part why our shared values strengthen the relationship," he said.

"Like our own, India's democracy is powered by its free-thinking citizens. We applaud that, and we view Indian democracy as a force for good in defence of a free and open Indo-Pacific -- indeed, a free and open world," he added. Blinken said the most remarkable democratic elections in the world, in many ways, are in India.

"It's the largest expression of free political will by citizens anywhere on Earth. So I say all this because as friends, we talk to each other about these issues. We talk about the challenges that we're both facing in renewing and strengthening our democracies," he said.

Blinken was replying to a question. "We also recognise that every democracy, starting with our own, is a work in progress. And when we discuss these issues, I certainly do it from a starting point of humility. We've seen the challenges that our own democracy has faced in the past and faces today," he said.

"And that's how societies make progress. And sometimes we – we're at moments when the challenge is painful. It can even be ugly. But as democracies, we deal with it openly," he observed. He said ultimately, "I think we have in our democracies self-righting mechanisms that are made up of free citizens, of different backgrounds, different faiths, a free media, independent courts, powered by a system of free and fair elections".

Blinken said the most remarkable democratic elections in the world, in many ways, are in India, just by sheer numbers. "It's the largest expression of free political will by citizens anywhere on Earth. So I say all this because as friends, we talk to each other about these issues. We talk about the challenges that we're both facing in renewing and strengthening our democracies," he said.

Blinken said both countries can learn from each other as no democracy, regardless of how large or how old, has it all figured out. "And we celebrate that the world's oldest and the world's largest democracies are dedicated at heart to a shared set of values that I believe will ensure not only the ultimate success of democracy, but the success of the relationship between India and the US," he added.

Jaishankar summed up by making three points. One, he said that the quest for a more perfect union applies as much to the Indian democracy as it does to the American one and indeed to all democracies.

"Two, it is the moral obligation of all polities to really right wrongs when they have been done, including historically and many of the decisions and policies you have seen in the last few years fall in that category.

"And third, that freedoms are important, we all value them but never equate freedom with non-governance or lack of governance or poor governance. They are two completely different things. We had a good conversation and I am sure we will continue that conversation," he added.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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