World Blinken in India for talks dominated by Afghan turmoil, China
Haley blasts Blinken's invite to UN experts on racism, minority issues: 'This is insane'
EXCLUSIVE: Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Wednesday tore into the Biden administration for issuing an invitation to the United Nations' envoys on racism and minority issues to visit the U.S., describing the move as "insane.""China has one million Uyghurs in concentration camps, Cuba is beating protesters, and Venezuela is torturing political prisoners," Haley said in a statement to Fox News.
Top US diplomat Antony Blinken arrived Tuesday in India for talks dominated by turmoil in Afghanistan and common worries about China, while also touching on New Delhi's rights record.
Blinken, in his first India visit as secretary of state, was due to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Wednesday before flying to Kuwait.
US-Indian relations have long been cool but China's growing assertiveness pushed them closer, particularly since deadly clashes last year on the disputed Indo-Chinese Himalayan border.
Blinken to pay first trip to India amid Afghanistan withdrawal
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will speak next week in India about supporting Afghanistan as worries grow in New Delhi about Taliban gains amid the end of the two-decade US military mission, officials said Friday. President Joe Biden has ordered an end to the longest-ever US war by the end of August, saying that nothing more can be achieved militarily -- despite rapid gains on the ground by Taliban insurgents. The Taliban welcomed virulently anti-Indian extremists when the Sunni Muslim militants ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, with an Indian civilian airliner hijacked to the Taliban bastion of Kandahar in 1999.
New Delhi is meanwhile alarmed that a possible Taliban takeover in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of forces will turn the country into a haven for anti-India extremists.
India, a firm backer of the Afghan government which has spent billions on development projects, recently evacuated 50 staff from its Kandahar consulate as the Taliban gains ever more territory.
The talks in a monsoon-soaked New Delhi will also touch on joint efforts on making Covid-19 vaccines, climate change and, according to US officials, India's recent human rights record.
Under Modi, India has made growing use of anti-terrorism legislation and "sedition" laws to arrest people, in what critics say is aimed at silencing dissent. The government denies this.
The Hindu-nationalist government has also brought in legislation that detractors say discriminates against India's 170-million-strong Muslim minority. Modi insists all Indians have equal rights.
Fighting rages as Taliban attack key Afghan city .
The militants are battling to take control of a provincial capital for the first time in years.Lashkar Gah in southern Helmand province is under heavy assault from the militants, despite US and Afghan air strikes.