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Will stand with India in confronting threats it faces: Biden

By Lalit K Jha
August 16, 2020 08:26 IST
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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden asserted that if elected, his administration will stand with New Delhi in confronting the threats it faces and called for strengthening the 'bond' between India and the United States.


IMAGE: Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop in Wilmington, Delaware. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Presidential elections in the US will held on November 3 and the 77-year-old is challenging incumbent Republican President Donald Trump in the polls.

"Fifteen years ago, I was leading the efforts to approve the historic civil nuclear deal with India. I said that if the US and India became closer friends and partners, then the world will be a safer place," Biden, who was vice-president in the Obama administration, said while addressing the Indian-American community on India's Independence Day.

If elected president, Biden said, he will continue to believe this and also continue to stand with India against the threats it faces from its own region and along its borders.

He said that he will work on expanding two-way trade between the two nations and take on big global challenges like climate change and global health security.

If elected, the Democratic candidate said, he will work to strengthen the democracies where diversity is the mutual strength.

On this day, let us 'continue to deepen the bond that endures between our nation's and our people', Biden said.

He said that 'as President, I'll also continue to rely on the Indian-American diaspora, that keeps our two nations together, as I have throughout my career'.

"My constituents in Delaware, my staff in the Senate, the Obama administration that had more Indian-Americans than any other administration in the history of this country, and this campaign with Indian Americans at senior levels, which of course includes the top of the heap, our dear friend (Kamala Harris) who will be the first Indian American vice president in the history of the United States of America," Biden said.

Early this week, Biden scripted history by selecting Indian origin Senator Harris, 55, as his running mate in the US presidential election.

Harris, whose father is an African from Jamaica and mother an Indian, is the first-ever Black vice-presidential nominee.

"We all know she's smart, she's tested, she's prepared. But another thing that makes Kamala so inspiring is her mother's immigrant story to the US that started in India, with pure courage that brought her daughters to this moment. I know the pride you feel. It's your story too," Biden said.

"For your sacrifices, and your family's courage, you became pillars of our community and our country. You're patriots and the frontlines of this pandemic.

"In this reckoning of systemic racism, you're making real real promise that America is a place where people of all races and religions can live together in peace," he said.

"But I know it's hard. I heart goes out to all those of you who have been the targets in a rise in hate crimes, and the crackdown of legal immigration, including a sudden and harmful actions on H-1B visas.

"That for decades have made America stronger and brought our nation's closer," Biden said.

The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

"While it's sometimes may not feel like the US of your dreams, we will overcome and build back better than ever. Like (former President) Barack Obama had asked to me, I'm asking Kamala Harris, to be the last person in the room to ask the tough questions of me, provide counsel, most of all to always represent the belief in possibilities," the former US vice president said.

Biden administration will place 'high priority' on strengthening India-US ties

A Biden administration will place a 'high priority' on continuing to strengthen the India-US relationship, his campaign said on Saturday, asserting that no common global challenge can be solved without the two countries working as responsible partners.

In a major policy document on Indian-Americans, the campaign said Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden believes there can be no tolerance for terrorism in South Asia, cross-border or otherwise.

A Biden administration will also work with India to support a rules-based and stable Indo-Pacific region in which no country, including China, is able to threaten its neighbours with impunity, it said.

'Biden will deliver on his long-standing belief that India and the United States are natural partners, and a Biden administration will place a high priority on continuing to strengthen the US-India relationship,' the Biden Campaign said as Indians and 4 million Indian-Americans celebrated India's Independence Day.

'No common global challenge can be solved without India and the United States working as responsible partners,' said the campaign as it released 'Joe Biden's Agenda for the Indian American Community' policy document.

'Together, we will continue strengthening India's defense and capabilities as a counter-terrorism partner, improving health systems and pandemic response, and deepening cooperation in areas such as higher education, space exploration, and humanitarian relief,' the campaign said.

The policy document comes days after former vice president Biden named Indian-origin US Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate.

Harris, whose father is an African from Jamaica and mother an Indian, is the first-ever Black vice-presidential nominee.

'Biden will ensure that South Asian Americans are represented in his administration, starting with his Vice-Presidential nominee, Senator Kamala Harris, whose mother emigrated from India to study and build a life in the United States,' the campaign policy document said.

'Our government will reflect the diversity of the United States, and Indian American voices will be included in shaping the policies that impact their communities. From fighting COVID-19 to building our economy back better to reforming our system of immigration, a Biden-Harris Administration will be one that Indian-Americans can count on,' it said.

As the world's oldest and largest democracies, the United States and India are bound together by their shared democratic values: fair and free elections, equality under the law, and the freedom of expression and religion, the campaign said.

'These core principles have endured throughout each of our nations' histories and will continue to be the source of our strength in the future,' it said.

Biden played a lead role, both as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and as the Vice President, in systematically deepening the US' strategic engagement, people-to-people ties, and collaboration with India on global challenges, it said.

'In 2006, Biden announced his vision for the future of US-India relations: 'My dream is that in 2020, the two closest nations in the world will be India and the United States',' it said.

He has also worked to make that vision a reality, including leading the charge in Congress, working with Democrats and Republicans, to approve the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement in 2008, said the campaign.

The Obama-Biden administration continued to deepen collaboration between India and the United States on strategic, defence, economic, regional, and global challenges.

Biden was a major champion of growing and expanding the US-India partnership. Recognising India's growing role on the world stage, the Obama-Biden administration formally declared US support for India's membership in a reformed and expanded United Nations Security Council, it said.

The Obama-Biden administration also named India a 'Major Defense Partner' -- a status approved by the Congress -- to ensure that when it comes to the advanced and sensitive technology that India needs to strengthen its military, India is treated on par with its closest partners, it said.

Former President Barack Obama and Biden also strengthened their cooperation with India to fight terrorism in each of 'our countries and across the region', it added.

The Obama-Biden administration worked closely with India to secure the successful signing of the Paris Climate Agreement to address the global climate crisis that 'threatens all our peoples'.

'A Biden administration would bring the United States back into the Paris Agreement, giving us the ability to again work closely with India to fight climate change and once more work hand in hand to reduce our carbon emissions and secure our clean energy future, without which we cannot build the green economy we need,' the campaign said.

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Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC
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