New Delhi: Democracies will emerge stronger from the Covid-19 pandemic compared to the authoritarian powers, and countries like India will “provide solutions for global pandemics”, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said.
“The United States and democracies around the world, the freedom-loving peoples of the world, will come out of this in a way that is far better than those nations that rely on authoritarian power,” Pompeo stated last week in a teleconference with south and central Asian journalists.
Responding to a question by ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta, Pompeo said people in place like India and in other democracies around the world will “actually provide solutions, and in this case, solutions for global pandemics”.
“It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the best information flow is coming from democracies, and it won’t surprise me at all when what we see come away from this is a recognition that in times of global challenge, it is the fundamental underpinnings of freedom and democracy that bring health, security, and prosperity back to the world. And America will be at the front of that and will lead it,” Pompeo said.
US taking the lead
Making an effort to project that the US has taken a lead in resolving the Covid-19 crisis, Pompeo said: “I want everyone to know the United States is leading the world in providing help to our friends who are afflicted. We have announced over $500 million in foreign assistance. There’s no country that can match that.”
He highlighted that not just the American government, but private sector conglomerates like PepsiCo are providing meals and testing kits to millions of poor and vulnerable people in countries like India and Pakistan.
“When the economy reopens, we’ll be aggressive in providing assistance to countries and helping them dig their way out,” Pompeo said.
He also highlighted that the US and India have “worked closely” to combat the crisis by way of sharing of resources in terms of critical drugs like hydroxychloroquine and personal protective equipment (PPE).
“We’ve worked through each of these problems. There’s been enormous cooperation,” he said, adding that in future, the US will come out with therapeutics and a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
Pompeo also said he is in a regular dialogue with India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on strengthening the supply chain between the countries, to make it more “adequate, robust, redundant” while ensuring smoother movement of products that “matter to both of our countries’ national security”.
US not ‘scapegoating’ WHO
The Secretary of State said it is not “scapegoating” the World Health Organization (WHO) by temporarily withholding its funding.
“We’re not scapegoating. What we’re doing is we are demanding that institutions that have missions are executing on those missions in a way that is commensurate with the need to protect citizens of Nepal and of India and of Pakistan and of the United States of America,” he said, adding that the US will be “humanitarian leader” and “leader in health assistance”.
Pompeo also said America is now going to explore a mechanism, bilateral or multilateral, that will deliver on the purpose it will be established for.
“We’ve watched here the World Health Organization not live up to the standards that they set, and they have so far been unable to hold accountable a country where this virus originated — when I say accountable, we need data, we need facts, we need information. Information, data, and facts exist inside of China today, and those need to be shared around the world,” he said.
India and US to move forward on Indo-Pacific
Pompeo said while the US and India are engaged in jointly fighting the pandemic, both countries are also making progress in their cooperation over the Indo-Pacific in parallel.
“Our teams are working on all the issues that we had before as well: A free and open Indo-Pacific, and all of the challenges that confront it… The challenges that China presents in the South China Sea; all of the issues that surround our trade relationships,” he said, referring to his phone calls with Jaishankar.
India was also part of the US-led Quad-plus meeting on Covid-19 that took place recently.
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