By Lalit K Jha
PRIME Minister Narendra Modi has described India and America as “natural partners” as he held the first in-person meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House during which they decided to further cement the Indo-US strategic partnership and discussed global issues of common interest, including threats to democracy, Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific.
“India and America are natural partners. We have similar values, similar geopolitical interests,” Modi said in a joint media appearance with Harris on Thursday, the first-ever person of Indian origin to be elected as the Vice President of the United States. Noting that India and the US are the largest and oldest democracies, Modi said the two countries share values and their coordination and cooperation is also gradually increasing.
Both the leaders appreciated that the bilateral relationship is on a sound footing, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told reporters here while giving details of the meeting that lasted for an hour.
This is the first meeting between the two leaders. Harris had earlier spoken with Modi over the phone in June during the COVID-19 crisis in India.
“You are the source of inspiration for so many people across the world. I am completely confident that our bilateral relationship will touch new heights under President Biden and your leadership,” Modi told Harris.
Later in tweet, Modi said, “Glad to have met @[email protected]
Her feat has inspired the entire world. We talked about multiple subjects that will further cement the India-USA friendship, which is based on shared values and cultural linkages.”
The two leaders were wearing masks as they both spoke in front of a battery of pool reporters from both India and the US. They also discussed areas of future collaboration, including space cooperation, Information Technology, especially emerging and critical technologies, as well as the cooperation in healthcare sector.
Modi invited the 56-year-old Democratic leader and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff to visit India. “Both President Biden and you assumed office at a time when our planet faced very tough challenges. In a short time you have had many achievements to your credit be it COVID-19, climate change or the Quad,” Modi said. In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said the two leaders exchanged views on recent global developments, including in Afghanistan and reaffirmed their commitment towards a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
The two leaders discussed the COVID-19 situation in their countries, including ongoing efforts to contain the pandemic through expedited vaccination efforts, and ensuring supply of critical medicines, therapeutics and healthcare equipment, it said. “As it relates to the Indo-Pacific, the US stresses on maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Harris said.