US President Joe Biden said on Friday that the relationship between India and the US, the world's two largest democracies, is destined to be "stronger, closer and tighter”, as he hosted Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House for the first bilateral meeting and discussed a wide range of priority issues, including combating Covid-19, climate change, trade and the Indo-Pacific.
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.
"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, the 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.
India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific against the backdrop of China's rising military manoeuvring in the region.
"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, "Gandhiji spoke about trusteeship, a concept which is very important for our planet in the times to come."
Noting that trade will be an important factor in the Indo-US ties in the coming decade, the prime minister said that there is much to be done in the area.
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."
He said that technology is becoming a driving force. "We have to utilise our talents to leverage technology for greater global good."
Modi recalled his interactions with Biden in 2014 and 2016, saying, ”That time you had shared your vision for ties between India and US. I am glad to see you are working to realise this vision."
He said that each of the subjects mentioned by the president are crucial for the India-US friendship. "His efforts on Covid-19, mitigating climate change and the Quad are noteworthy,” Modi added.
"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 had tweeted minutes before the meeting.
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.
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.
The Indian delegation included External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary HV Shringla, India's ambassador to US TS Sandhu, Joint Secretary to the PM, RG Shresth, and Private Secretary to the PM, Vivek Kumar.