US President Joe Biden on Friday said at a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi; that the relationship between the two countries is “destined to be stronger; closer and tighter” and the Indian leader rolled out a 10-year roadmap for growing the ties based on four Ts – talent, technology, trade and trusteeship.
The American president went on to express further optimism about the relationship saying that; he has long believed – and said as much way back in 2006; when he was vice-president – that by 2020 India and the United States will be “among the closest nations in the world”.
FIRST IN-PERSON MEETING
While this was their first in-person meeting after Joe Biden became president; the two leaders had met before, spoken on phone several times and participated in virtual meetings.
They displayed an easy level of comfort with each other that; showed through immediately when President Joe Biden began recounting a story he has told many times before of relatives in India with the same surname “Biden”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took it forward this time and said that since Joe Biden last told him about it; he got some research done into it, and he has now brought along some related documents for the president.
“I think the relationship between India and the United States; the largest democracies in the world, is destined to be stronger, closer and tighter and I think it can benefit the whole world;” President Joe Biden in his opening remarks welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Oval Office.
“Today we’re launching a new chapter in the history of US-India ties, and taking on some of the toughest challenges we face together; starting with a shared commitment to end the Covid pandemic,” he added.
The American president said he and the prime minister will discuss what more can be done to end the pandemic and take on climate challenges that the world face, and ensure stability in the Indo-Pacific; including with partners of the Quad; which was scheduled to hold its first summit meeting later in the day.
Afghanistan, economic cooperation and trade will also figure in their talks, officials have said.
4MN INDIAN-AMERICANS AND MAHATMA GANDHI
Joe Biden also said the relationship was more than a partnership between the two countries and included “family ties”; pointing to the 4 million Indian-Americans.
Pointing to Mahatma Gandhi’s upcoming birth anniversary next week; the US president said people should be reminded that his “message of non-violence, respect, tolerance, matters today maybe more than ever”.
In the morning, US President Joe Biden had tweeted about the upcoming bilateral and “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.”
2021, A NEW BEGINNING
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of the decade starting 2021; as a transformative period for ties between the two countries and said seeds have been sown for expanding the relationship under President Biden’s leadership.
Narendra Modi then went on to unveil his four-Ts roadmap.
He spoke first of the talent of Indian-Americans that Biden had referred to in his remarks.
“When I look at the importance of this decade, and the role that is going to be played by this talent of the Indian-Americans; I find that the people-to-people talent will play a greater role and the Indian talent will be a full partner in this relationship,” he said.
Technology, the second T, he said will be the “most important driving force” and technology that is going to be for the service and for the use of humanity.
Trade, the third T, will continue to assume importance in the relationship, the prime minister said, adding; “we find that the trade between our two countries are actually complimentary”.
Narendra Modi added, “There are things that you have and there are things that we have, and then we in fact complement each other. I find that the area of trade during this decade; that is also going to be tremendously important.”
And finally, the fourth T: trusteeship, a concept advocated by Mahatma Gandhi; who, the prime minister said, “used to talk about the principle of trusteeship, trusteeship of the planet”.
He said the sentiment of trusteeship would assume increased importance globally and also in relations between India and the US.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was accompanied at the bilateral by external affairs minister S Jaishankar, national security adviser Ajit Doval; foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Indian ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu and others. And President Biden was accompanied by secretary of state Antony Blinken; national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Presidential envoy on climate John Kerry, White House Indo-Pacific czar Kurt Campbell and other officials.
Richard Rossow, head of India studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; said though the public remarks had “less flash than President Trump’s public engagements with Prime Minister Modi; it reflects a return to normal diplomacy. Not simply for its sober, friendly tone; but also the fact that the leaders are focused on the global partnership. This appeared less transactional than recent summits. Of course, the public session has less importance than what might be announced after the formal bilateral later today.”
Atman Trivedi, a former Obama administration official who is now a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center, said; “The two leaders meeting in person, separately and with the Quad, presents a rare opportunity to take advantage of the growing strategic convergence in the Indo-Pacific; while working on the most consequential challenges of our times, from Covid-19 to climate change to cybersecurity.”