PM Modi, at rare press conference with Joe Biden, hails ‘new chapter’ of India-US ties. 10 points
Narendra Modi took questions from journalists -- a rare sight – at a joint press conference with President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is currently on a State visit to the US, took questions from journalists -- a rare sight – at a joint press conference with President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday.
News agency AP reported that Indian officials agreed to the event only the day before, according to a person familiar with the matter who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive negotiations.
Modi touted “a new chapter” to the countries' “strategic partnership” after the two leaders emerged from Oval Office talks where the countries' differences on Russia and human rights were on the table.
Top 10 points on PM Modi-Joe Biden joint press conference:
1. Prime Minister Modi broadly defended Indian democracy when pressed on religious intolerance and freedom of speech in a rare instance of taking questions from reporters. Modi said he was “really surprised” to hear India’s commitment to democratic values questioned by Americans. “In both countries, democracy is in our DNA,” Modi said, adding, “We live democracy and our ancestors have actually put words to this concept, and that is in the form of our Constitution”.
2. Pressed on that question, President Biden said he and Modi had “a good discussion about democratic values". Both countries “cherish freedom and celebrate the democratic values of universal human rights, which face challenges around the world” but which “remains so vital to the success of each of our nations — press freedom, religious freedom, tolerance, diversity,” Biden replied.
3. The Biden administration has decided to largely remain publicly quiet on India’s democratic backsliding and human rights situation, according to senior US officials told Bloomberg, as the US intensifies efforts to keep New Delhi on its side in its growing rivalry with China.
4. Modi said India and the US - the two biggest democracies of the world - can contribute towards global peace, stability and prosperity as he asserted that for the partnership between the two countries, "even the sky is not the limit".
5. Modi said also that India and America are walking shoulder-to-shoulder in the fight against terrorism and radicalism, and added that during his talks with Biden, the two sides have agreed that concerted action is necessary to end cross border terrorism.
5. The PM also said peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region is their shared priority. "We are unanimous that the development and success of this region is important for the whole world," he added.
6. Praising the Indian community in the US, Biden mentioned the contributions of Americans of Indian heritage in his administration, including Vice President Kamala Harris, whose success stories define the relationship and the limitless possibilities between the two nations.
7. Biden also defended his harsh public comments on China, including calling President Xi Jinping a dictator, saying his words would have no negative impact on US-China relations and that he still expects to meet with Xi in the future.
8. Modi said India was "completely ready" to help Ukraine's peace efforts. “From the very beginning of the events in Ukraine, India has laid emphasis on the resolution of the dispute through dialogue and diplomacy… India is completely ready to help Ukraine's peace efforts," Modi said.
9. Several Democratic lawmakers said they would boycott Modi's address to a joint session of Congress. Among them was Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a prominent progressive, who said she wanted to make a stand for "pluralism, tolerance and freedom of the press."
10. Former president Barack Obama, in an interview with CNN, said that Biden should raise concerns privately with Modi, warning that without the protection of minorities, “there is a strong possibility at some point that India starts pulling apart”.
(With inputs from agencies)