Secretary Antony J. Blinken with Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar Before Their Meeting

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Indian Minister of External Affairs

Washington, D.C.

Treaty Room

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good afternoon, everyone.  It’s a special pleasure to be here with my friend and colleague, Foreign Minister Jaishankar.  It’s wonderful to have him at the State Department, and very important as well because the United States and India are working together on so many of the most important challenges of our time and ones that are having a profound impact on the lives of our citizens.  And we are united in confronting COVID-19 together, we’re united in dealing with the challenge posed by climate change, and we are partnered together directly through the Quad and other institutions at the United Nations in dealing with many of the challenges that we face in the region and around the world.

The partnership between the United States and India is vital, it’s strong, and I think it’s increasingly productive.  So I’m very pleased to have the foreign minister here today and we have, as usual, a lot to talk about.

EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER JAISHANKAR:  Thank you.  Thank you, Tony.  Well, let me echo the Secretary’s remarks.  It’s first of all a great pleasure to be back.  This is the first cabinet-level visit from India to the new administration, and I’m of course delighted that I see someone as a counterpart with whom I’ve worked for many years.  We have a lot of issues to discuss.  I think our relations have grown stronger over the years, and I’m very confident they’ll continue to do so.  But I also want to take the opportunity to express to the Secretary and through him to the administration, to the United States, for the strong support and solidarity at a moment of great difficulty for us.  So as he said, we have many things to talk about, but I thought that’s something I should express.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  We were – we know.  We remember in the earlier days of COVID, India was there for the United States, something we’ll never forget, and now we want to make sure that we’re there for and with India.

Thank you all very much.

EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER JAISHANKAR:  Thank you.

More from: Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State, Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Indian Minister of External Affairs

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  • Home Foreclosure Sales: FHA, Rural Housing Service, and VA Could Better Align Program Metrics with Their Missions
    In U.S GAO News
    By 2019, the number of foreclosed properties—known as real estate-owned (REO) properties—that federal entities owned declined to historically low levels because of the housing market recovery and the sale of many of the properties (see figure). Real Estate-Owned Properties of Selected Federal Entities, 2004–2019 Note: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the government-sponsored enterprises shown here. Data for the enterprises and FHA are calendar year; for VA and RHS, fiscal year ending September 30. The entities GAO reviewed each have processes to oversee their REO maintenance contractors' activities and performance, including internal and external performance reviews and on-site inspections. Entities generally have standardized maintenance policies for REO properties across the country, such as emergency repairs for broken windows and routine maintenance requirements for the frequency of cutting grass. GAO found that the performance of contractors whose documentation GAO reviewed generally met entities' standards and requirements. However, entities' oversight of contractors identified instances of underperformance in maintenance. For instance, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) recouped almost $3 million from seven property maintenance contractors for work below quality standards from 2017 to 2020. The REO program metrics of FHA, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Rural Housing Service (RHS) focus on required financial goals, such as minimizing losses, but do not always align fully with other program goals or agency missions. For example, FHA does not collect comprehensive information on REO property sales to public-sector homeowners or local nonprofits—missing an opportunity to measure the extent to which its REO program supports its goal to strengthen neighborhoods and communities. Similarly, VA and RHS lack metrics that would show whether their REO programs align with their broader agency missions to serve veterans and rural homebuyers, respectively. Incorporating additional metrics could help FHA, VA, and RHS ensure that their REO programs assist in meeting their agencies' missions. Poor maintenance of foreclosed properties can negatively affect communities and threaten neighborhood stability. FHA, VA, RHS, and Freddie Mac are among the federal entities owning foreclosed properties through REO programs. GAO was asked to review how these federal entities monitor REO property conditions. The objectives this report examines include trends in the number of REO properties; oversight of maintenance contractors; and whether metrics used to assess REO program performance align with entities' missions. GAO reviewed and analyzed reports and data on the number of REO properties and documentation on FHA, Freddie Mac, VA, and RHS oversight of REO property maintenance from 2017 to 2020. GAO also analyzed data on REO reimbursements to contractors for maintenance activities. GAO recommends that FHA, VA, and RHS consider additional REO program metrics that measure how the programs support their respective missions of strengthening communities and serving veterans and rural homeowners. The entities generally agreed with the recommendation. For more information, contact John H. Pendleton at (202) 512-8678 or pendletonj@gao.gov.
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