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File photo of U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E. Biegun. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

NEW DELHI/WASHINGTON – Following the recent Quad foreign ministry-level meeting in Tokyo, the U.S. is sending its Deputy Secretary of State to India on a two-day trip next week to further strengthen strategic partnerships to counter the Chinese expansion in the Indo-Pacific region.

A statement from the Department of State said that Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E. Biegun will travel to India and Bangladesh from Oct. 12 to 16.

"Building on Secretary Pompeo's October 6 meeting with Indian Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar and ahead of the US-India 2+2 ministerial dialogue later this year, Deputy Secretary Biegun's engagements in India will focus on advancing the United States-India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership and how the United States and India can work together to advance peace, prosperity, and security in the Indo-Pacific and around the globe," the statement said.

From Oct. 12-14, the deputy secretary will visit New Delhi where he will meet with senior government officials and deliver keynote remarks at the India-US forum.

The State Department said that from Oct. 14-16, Biegun will visit Dhaka to meet with senior government officials and reaffirm the U.S.-Bangladesh partnership.

The deputy secretary's engagements in Bangladesh will focus on advancing the two countries' common vision of a free, open, inclusive, peaceful and secure Indo-Pacific region with shared prosperity for all; U.S.-Bangladesh cooperation on Covid-19 response and recovery efforts; and sustainable economic development.

Amidst the Chinese aggression along the Line of Actual Control since this June, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar at the Quad consultations in Tokyo Oct. 6 had reiterated that India was committed to the shared vision of the U.S., Japan and Australia for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.

The foreign ministerial-level meeting of the Quad, an informal strategic group of the four countries, was held in Tokyo in the wake of the growing belligerence shown by China since the beginning of this year.

The meeting was attended by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Japan's Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Jaishankar.

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