Biden, Modi pledge to strengthen US-India ties in phone call
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held his first phone conversation with US President-elect Joe Biden and they agreed to work closely to further advance the Indo-US strategic partnership, India’s External Affairs Ministry said on Wednesday.
Modi congratulated Biden during their conversation on Tuesday and they discussed their priorities, including containing the coronavirus pandemic, promoting access to affordable vaccines, tackling climate change and cooperating in the Indo-Pacific Region, the ministry said in a statement.
Modi had earlier tweeted his congratulations to Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on November 8.
The Indian prime minister recalled his earlier interactions with Biden, including during his official visits to the United States in 2014 and 2016. Biden had visited India in 2013.
Biden had chaired the Joint Session of the US Congress that was addressed by Modi during his 2016 visit to Washington.
Modi is known for his public displays of bonhomie with President Donald Trump who visited India in February.
Stepping up the Trump administration’s anti-China message in India, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Defense chief Mark Esper visited India a week ahead of America’s November 3 presidential election.
Pompeo and Esper signed an agreement expanding military satellite information-sharing and highlighted strategic cooperation between Washington and New Delhi.
Modi’s critics said the prime minister had come dangerously close to endorsing Trump’s candidature, which they said could hurt India’s prospects under a Democratic administration.
Leading up to the US elections, Biden condemned the Hindu nationalist government’s citizenship law that criticis say discriminates against India’s nearly 200 million Muslims.
“These measures are inconsistent with the country’s long tradition of secularism and with sustaining a multi-ethnic and multi-religious democracy,” Biden had said in a statement.
But analysts say India-US relationship enjoys bipartisan bipartisan support, and the US wants India as a key partner in efforts to push back against China.
India enjoys a strong and growing relationship with the US, with five Republican and Democrat US presidents visiting the South Asian nation in the last 10 years.
India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said on Tuesday that ties between New Delhi and Washington will expand further under the Biden administration.
“As vice president, we dealt with him. I happened to be the ambassador during the last phase of the Obama administration. We’d known him earlier when he was in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as the ranking Democratic member and then as the chairman,” Jaishankar said while speaking at an online discussion organised by the think-tank Gateway House.