PM Modi’s high-powered US visit gets off to flying start

Productive first day for the Indian Prime Minister as he met US Vice President Kamala Harris, global CEOs and his counterparts from Japan and Australia. On Friday he is scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with President Biden, as well as attend the Quad leaders summit  hosted by the POTUS.  Then he will leave for New York where on Saturday he will address the United Nations General Assembly.

By SATimes Team

Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a 3-day US visit at the invitation of President Biden, met Vice President Kamala Harris, their first meeting, at the historic Eisenhower Building in Washington D.C on Thursday afternoon. The two leaders issued a joint statement before commencing delegation-level talks. Welcoming PM Modi, Kamala Harris said India is a very important partner for the United States.

PM Modi said in their joint media appearance that “India and America are natural partners. We have similar values, geopolitical interests. Saying that India-US bilateral ties will touch new heights as New Delhi deals with the Biden-Harris administration, the PM invited the Indian American Vice President to India, saying, “People are waiting to welcome you”.  Harris also talked about her India ties in her tete-e-tete with Modi before the delegation level talks.

The meeting between the Indian Prime Minister and Indian American US Vice President was called a “coming of age” moment for the Indian diaspora by The Lost Angeles Times, a leading paper from Harris’ home state, California.

PM Modi also had two bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Australia and Japan — Scott Morrison and Yoshihide Suga ahead of the Leaders’ Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework (Quad), the first one in-person, on Friday, hosted by President Joseph R. Biden. PM Modi framed the meeting thus: “The Summit provides an opportunity to take stock of the outcomes of our Virtual Summit in March this year and identify priorities for future engagements based on our shared vision for the Indo-Pacific region.”

PM Modi held a bilateral meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and reviewed the rapid progress in the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

On Friday, Prime Minister Modi will also have a bilateral meeting with President Biden in the White House, their first in-person meeting since the latter was sworn in as POTUS in January this year. PM Modi sees the visit as an occasion to strengthen the comprehensive global strategic partnership with the US. He  previewed the crucial meeting thus before leaving for America: “During my visit, I will review the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership with President Biden and exchange views on regional and global issues of mutual interest.”

The Afghan situation and its implications, China’s growing assertiveness, ways to stem radicalism and cross-border terrorism, and further expansion of India-US global partnership are expected to be the central focus of the talks between PM Modi and President Biden.

Indian Americans hope that the Modi-Biden meet sets the stage for personal friendship between the two world leaders. PM Modi had enjoyed a great personal rapport with both previous US Presidents, Donald J. Trump and Barack Obama.

On Thursday, PM Modi’s first official meetings in the morning were with 5 global CEOs across various industries to woo investments for India and shop for cutting edge defense and other technologies. He met with CEOs of Qualcomm, Adobe Systems, First Solar, General Atomics and Blackstone Group.

He was staying at the Wilfred Hotel in Washington DC.

The PM will travel to New York on September 24  evening, The next morning, he is scheduled to address the General Debate of the High-Level Segment of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The theme for this year’s General Debate is ‘Building Resilience through hope to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people, and revitalize the United Nations’. Previewing his UNGA address, Modi said it will focus on the pressing global challenges including the Covid-19 pandemic, the need to combat terrorism, climate change and other important issues.

In their bilateral meeting, Prime Minister Modi and his Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga discussed ways to further cement the bilateral strategic ties ahead of the first in-person Quad meeting to be hosted by President Joe Biden.

This is PM Modi’s first visit abroad beyond the neighborhood since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. He is accompanied by a high-level delegation including External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar Foreign Secretary Harsha Vardhan Shringla  and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. India’s ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu is also accompanying Modi to various engagements.

The prime minister  arrived at the Joint Base Andrews in Washington DC to a grand welcome by a crowd of Indian Americans chanting his name and waving the Indian flag amid light showers.

Upon his arrival at the airport, he was received by US Department of State officials including T H Brian McKeon, US Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources. He was welcomed by India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, along with the Defence attache, including Brigadier Anoop Singhal, Air Commodore Anjan Bhadra and naval attache Commodore Nirbhaya Bapna.

The last time PM Modi visited the US was in September 2019 when he and then President Donald Trump addressed the ‘Howdy, Modi!’ mega rally in Houston.

Image courtesy of (Photos: PIB)

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