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Days after Biden called India 'xenophobic', White House says...

May 18, 2024 11:24 IST

There are not too many more vibrant democracies in the world than India, the White House has said, applauding the people of India for exercising their right to vote.

IMAGE: National security spokesperson John Kirby takes questions from members of the news media during a press briefing with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at the White House in Washington, DC, on May 17, 2024. Photograph: Leah Millis/Reuters

White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby was responding to a question on the ongoing Indian elections in which more than 969 million people are exercising their right to franchise at one million polling stations to elect 545 Members of Parliament from thousands of candidates representing as many as 2,660 registered political parties.


The voting will conclude on June 1. The votes will be counted and the results will be declared on June 4.

"Not too many more vibrant democracies in the world than India. And we applaud the Indian people for exercising, you know, their ability to vote, and to have a voice in their future government. And we wish them well throughout the process, of course," Kirby told reporters at a news conference in Washington, DC.

Responding to another question, Kirby said the India-United States relationship has strengthened under Prime Minister Narendra Modi in particular during the last three years of the Biden administration.

"Our relationship with India is extremely close and getting closer," he said.

"You saw it on a State Visit (last June). We launched all kinds of new initiatives, working on critical emerging technologies together, and bolstering and expanding the relevance of the Indo-Pacific quad, of course, which India is a part of. And then, just the people-to-people exchanges, and the military that we share with India," Kirby said.

It's a very vibrant, very active partnership, he said.

"We are grateful for Prime Minister Modi's leadership," said the senior White House official.

When asked if President Joe Biden believes that India and Japan are xenophobic countries, he replied in the negative and said the president was making a broader point.

"I mean, the President was making a broader point here about the vibrancy of our own democracy, here in the United States, and how inclusive and participatory it is," Kirby said.

Biden earlier this month had called Japan and India 'xenophobic', grouping them with Russia and China as countries that 'don't want immigrants'.

Lalit K Jha
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