Tuesday, June 18, 2024

US President Biden congratulates Narendra Modi on election win

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes US President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Bharat Mandapam convention center for the G20 Summit, in New Delhi, India, on September 9, 2023. — Reuters
  • Biden congratulated Modi on a phone call after his election win.
  • He also discussed his national security adviser’s visit to India.
  • State Dept anticipates cooperation with India for free Indo-Pacific region.

United States President Joe Biden has congratulated Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a phone call after his party, along with allies, clinched the most number of seats in the recently-concluded Lok Sabha elections.

According to the White House, the US president also discussed his national security adviser Jake Sullivan’s upcoming visit to India in the call with Modi.

Separately, the State Department expressed Washington’s anticipation towards its cooperation with New Delhi to ensure a free Indo-Pacific region.

Biden, a day earlier, posted about the US’s “friendship” with India on X, formerly Twitter.

“The friendship between our nations is only growing as we unlock a shared future of unlimited potential,” the president said in the post.

Modi, whose National Democratic Alliance retained power with a surprisingly slim majority in voting results announced on Tuesday, called the US-India partnership “a force for global good.”

The US and India have deepened ties in recent years given shared concerns about China’s growing power, even as New Delhi has maintained its long-standing relationship with Russia despite the war in Ukraine, and even as rights advocates have raised concerns about the human rights situation in India, particularly surrounding treatment of minorities.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller on Tuesday called the US-Indian relationship “a great partnership,” although the US had concerns about human rights, which he said it would continue to raise openly with New Delhi.

The White House’s statement after the call between the two leaders did not give the date of Sullivan’s upcoming New Delhi visit. It said he will engage with the Indian government on shared priorities, including over technology.

Last year, during a visit by Modi to the US, the two countries announced a range of agreements on semiconductors, critical minerals, technology, defense and space cooperation.

Plots against Sikh separatists test ties

Ties between the two countries have been tested recently by the discovery of assassination plots against Sikh separatists in Canada and the United States.

In November, US authorities said an Indian government official had directed the plot in the attempted murder of Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a Sikh separatist and dual citizen of the United States and Canada. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in September that Canadian intelligence agencies were pursuing credible allegations linking the Indian government to the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June 2023 in Canada.

Trudeau also congratulated Modi in a statement on Wednesday and said Canada was ready to advance ties between the countries “anchored to human rights, diversity, and the rule of law.”

Last month, the US ambassador to India said Washington was satisfied so far with India’s moves to ensure accountability in the alleged plots, but many steps were still needed and there must be consequences for what was a “red line for America.”

India has expressed concerns about the linkage to officials and dissociated itself from the plots, saying it would formally investigate the concerns.

Political analysts say Washington is restrained in public criticism because it hopes India will act as a counterweight to an expansionist China.

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