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India disputes Blinken’s reported statement on use of its airfields

At a press briefing here, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said he would not like to go to media reports because what has been reported was ”slightly different” from what Blinken had told before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives.

SNS | New Delhi |

India today disputed media reports which quoted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken suggesting that Washington was in talks with New Delhi for using airfields in India as “staging areas” for carrying out aerial surveillance and launching attacks on terrorists in and around Afghanistan.

At a press briefing here, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said he would not like to go to media reports because what has been reported was ”slightly different” from what Blinken had told before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives.

The spokesperson, meanwhile, confirmed that an Indian national, who belongs to the Hindu Khost community, has been missing in Afghanistan and efforts were on to trace him.

”We’ve seen a missing person’s report about a reported Indian national – Bansuri Lal – missing in Kabul. We’re in touch with all concerned. We’ve seen reports about the local authorities undertaking an investigation. We’ll continue to monitor the situation,” he said. Reports from Afghanistan said Bansuri Lal, 50, was allegedly abducted at gunpoint from Kabul Tuesday morning.

On Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US next week, the spokesperson said Modi would attend the Quad Summit in Washington on 24 September in Washington and address the UN General Assembly in New York the next day. He would have bilateral talks with President Joe Biden and other Quad leaders–Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

In New York also, Modi was expected to have bilateral meetings with some world leaders on the margins of the UNGA.

Asked if a meeting of the SAARC foreign ministers was on the cards in New York on the sidelines of the UNGA, the spokesperson said, ”we will participate if the meet happens.”