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US doesn’t expect political favours from India for Covid help: Official

The US help to India to meet the Covid-19 surge is unconditional and does not expect political favours in return, State Department Spokesperson Ned Prince has declared.

“We have a Global Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with India. But the Secretary (of State Anthony Blinken) has been clear: This is not about shots in arms in return for political favours, in return for any sort of transactionalism. This is about America’s humanitarian leadership, the commitment that this administration has, to help those most in need,” Price said on Monday when a reporter asked at his briefing about prioritising Covid-19 help to India.

He said that as long as the virus is circulating “unfettered anywhere,” it is a threat to the American people.

“So we are doing what is in our national interest, but we’re also doing what’s in the collective interest. And it just so happens when it comes to global health, oftentimes what’s in our national interest is also in the collective interest, and that’s what we’re seeing here,” he added.

The US announced on Sunday that it was sending materials for making Covid-19 vaccines that India had requested and on Monday it said that would try to provide oxygen that is greatly needed as well as other products needed to fight the pandemic.

When a reporter asked if the US was acting to help India after a delay because of “Chinese criticism,” Price said, “I would take issue with the premise that it has taken us a long time.”

While conceding, “I would note that, of course, we have talked about our stepped-up assistance to India in recent hours,” he emphasised, “We’ve always said as we assess we’re in a position to do more, we will do more, and you have heard us make good on that pledge.”

“From the earliest days of this pandemic, we have provided much-needed assistance to India, just as India came to our aid when we were enduring the worst of the pandemic here in this country,” he said.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the US has provided nearly $19 million in total assistance, and that includes nearly $11 million in health assistance to help India slow the spread of Covid-19,” he said.

The $19 million aid includes $2 million to supporting micro and small and medium enterprises in areas hardest hit by the pandemic, he said.