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PM Modi holds first bilateral meeting with president biden; discusses indo-pacific, climate, covid-19

This is for the first time that Biden is meeting Modi after he became the 46th president of the US in January.

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President Joe Biden meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Washington-(PTI Photo)

Washington: The relationship between India and US, the two largest democracies in the world, is destined to be “stronger, closer and tighter,” US President Joe Biden said on Friday (September 24) as he hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House for the first bilateral meeting during which the two leaders discussed a wide range of priority issues, including combating COVID-19, climate change and economic cooperation.

Prime Minister Modi, who is visiting the US for the 7th time after assuming office in 2014, described Friday’s bilateral summit with Biden as important as they’re meeting at the start of the third decade of this century.

Prime Minister Modi described as “outstanding” his first bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden who said the Indo-US relationship is destined to be “stronger, closer and tighter”.

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Washington: President Joe Biden meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Washington. AP/PTI(AP09_24_2021_000269B)

“Your leadership will certainly play an important role in how this decade is shaped. The seeds have been sown for an even stronger friendship between India and the US,” Prime Minister Modi told Biden.

Biden said the relationship between India and the US, largest democracies in the world, is “destined to be stronger, closer and tighter.”

“I’ve long believed that the US-India relationship can help us solve a lot of global challenges. In fact, back in 2006, I had said that by 2020 India and the US will be among the closest nations in the world,” Biden told Modi.

“Today, we’re launching a new chapter in the history of US-India ties, taking on some of the toughest challenges we face together, starting with a shared commitment,” he said.

Biden said he and Prime Minister Modi would talk about what more they can do to fight COVID-19, take on the climate challenge that the world face, and ensure stability in the Indo-Pacific, including with their quiet partners.

“We are watching a new chapter in India-US ties,” he added. Modi said this decade will be shaped by talent and people-to-people linkages. “I am glad the Indian diaspora is making an active contribution towards the US’ progress.”

India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China’s rising military manoeuvring in the region.

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“Of course our partnership is more than just what we do. It’s about who we are in our shared responsibility to uphold democratic values, our joint commitment to diversity, and it’s about family ties, including four million Indian-Americans make the United States, stronger every single day,” he said.

Noting that the world would celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday next week, Biden said, “We’re all reminded that his message of non-violence, respect, tolerance, matters today maybe more than ever had.”

On this, Modi said, “Gandhi Ji spoke about trusteeship, a concept which is very important for our planet in the times to come.”

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Washington: President Joe Biden meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Washington. AP/PTI(AP09_24_2021_000272A)

He said that technology is becoming a driving force. “We have to utilise our talents to leverage technology for greater global good.”

Noting that trade will be an important factor in Indo-US ties in the coming decade, the Prime Minister said that there is much to be done in the area.

While the two leaders have met earlier when Biden was the Vice President of the country, this is for the first time that Biden is meeting Modi after he became the 46th president of the US in January.

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Washington: President Joe Biden meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, in Washington. AP/PTI(AP09_24_2021_000255B)

ALSO READ: Biden To Host QUAD Leaders As China Concerns Grow In Indo-Pacific Region

Both Biden and Prime Minister Modi have spoken over the phone multiple times and have attended a few virtual summits, including that of the Quad in March hosted by the US president.

The last telephone conversation between them took place on April 26. “This morning I’m hosting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House for a bilateral meeting. I look forward to strengthening the deep ties between our two nations, working to uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific, and tackling everything from COVID-19 to climate change,” President Biden tweeted just ahead of the meeting.

Modi, who is visiting the US for the 7th time after assuming office in 2014, had said his visit would be an occasion to strengthen the Indo-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership and exchange views on regional and global issues of mutual interest with President Biden.

Among the issues also include discussion about new areas of cooperation, said a senior administration official on the eve of the India-US bilateral summit.

Ahead of the visit, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the two leaders are expected to focus on further bolstering bilateral trade and investment ties, strengthening defence and security collaboration and boosting the strategic clean energy partnership.

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“The bilateral meeting (between Modi and Biden) will also feature the current regional security situation following recent developments in Afghanistan, our stakes as a neighbour and a longstanding and a preferred development partner of Afghanistan,” he said in New Delhi on Tuesday.

“In this context, we would undoubtedly discuss the need to stem radicalism, extremism, cross-border terrorism and the dismantling of global terrorist networks,” Shringla added.

After the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in mid-August, India has been saying that its focus was to ensure that the war-torn country’s soil is not used for terrorist activities against it.

Shringla said the importance of smooth post-COVID travel, especially for students, is also an important factor and is expected to be discussed at the talks. Biden and Modi are likely to be joined by their senior officials, including External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary Shringla, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu.

Following the bilateral summit, Biden in the afternoon would welcome Modi again at the White House for the first-ever in-person Quad summit.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan will also attend the summit.

ALSO READ: India, Japan Reaffirm Commitment For Free, Open Indo-Pacific Region Ahead of Quad Meet

The Summit provides an opportunity to take stock of the outcomes of the Quad leaders’ Virtual Summit in March this year and identify priorities for future engagements based on our shared vision for the Indo-Pacific region, the administration official said.

India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China’s rising military manoeuvring in the region.

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