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Janet Yellen defends US ties with India amid ‘risks’ posed by Russia

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US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday highlighted the close alliance between India and the United States amid “geopolitical and security risks” to the supply chain by countries such as Russia.

In a meeting with several Indian businessmen from the technology sector in New Delhi, Yellen accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of using his country’s gas supplies as a weapon against his alleged European partners after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“It’s an example of how malicious actors can use their market positions to try to gain geopolitical leverage or disrupt trade for their own gain,” the US treasury secretary said.

For this reason, Yellen warned countries against being “overly dependent on risky countries or a single source for critical inputs,” and strengthening supply chains with “trusted” trading partners, an approach that the US is taking.

In this regard, she described the US and India as “natural allies” and said that the recent challenges caused first by the Covid-19 pandemic and later by the conflict in Ukraine, had made the relationship between the two countries “stronger than ever before.”

“The United States is home to the largest Indian diaspora outside of Asia. It serves as India’s largest export market. Bilateral trade between our two countries reached an all-time high last year,” Yellen said.

Trade between the two nations rose to a record $157 billion in 2021, according to data from the US state department, which noted that American companies have expanded their operations in India in recent years.

This relationship extends to other areas as well, such as the Indo-Pacific, where Yellen pointed out that both democracies have a mutual goal of promoting peace and prosperity.

Yellen’s visit takes place a few weeks before India assumes the presidency of the Group of Twenty (G20) from Dec. 1.

“In three weeks, India will assume the helm of the G20 at an uncertain time for the global economy. We look forward to supporting India’s G20 presidency. A successful Indian presidency is indispensable to our global economic recovery and sustained progress on our deepest problems,” the US official said.

“Let me focus on four shared objectives: addressing debt distress, promoting climate action, evolving the multilateral development banks, and embracing and shaping our changing economy,” she added.

The US treasury secretary will also meet Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her day-long visit before traveling to Indonesia to participate in the G20 summit. 

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