WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden on Thursday called religious freedom a core principle for India and the United States, in a gentle nudge as he welcomed India's Hindu nationalist prime minister, Narenda Modi, reports AFP.
Modi has faced criticism over the rights of religious minorities in India, with rights groups alleging a blind eye to vigilante violence against Muslims and Christians.
Equity under the law, freedom of expression, religious pluralism and diversity of our people -- these core principles have endured and evolve, Biden said at a ceremonial welcome to Modi at the White House. Even as they have faced challenges throughout each of our nations' histories, and will fuel our strength, depth and future.
Biden and Modi, however, overwhelmingly stressed the positive as they opened talks set to focus on trade and defense, with the two democracies both seeing challenges from a rising China.
“I have long believed that the relationship between the US and India will be one of the most defining relationships of the 21st century,” Biden said.
Modi said that both India and the United States had societies based on democratic values.
“Both of our countries take pride in their diversity,” Modi said. Both of us believe in the fundamental principle of 'in the interest of all,' 'for the welfare of all.'
“The two countries are committed to work together for the global good and for global peace, stability and prosperity. Our strong strategic partnership is a clear proof of the power of democracy,” Modi added.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi started his state visit in the US for strengthening the shared commitment to a prosperous and secure Indo-Pacific region and affirm the deep and close partnership between the two largest democracies of the world.
President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden greeted Prime Minister Modi for the Official Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn which includes a 21-gun salute. Modi is on an Official State Visit from June 21-23 at the invitation of President Joe Biden and the First Lady.
Senior White house officials told reporters, “This visit will affirm the deep and close partnership between the US and India and the warm bonds of family and friendship that link Americans and Indians together.” “The visit will strengthen our two countries' shared commitment to free, open, prosperous and secure Indo-Pacific and our shared resolve to elevate our Strategic Technology Partnership, including in defence, clean energy, and space,” the official said.
The US, India and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China's rising military manoeuvring in the region.
The leaders will discuss ways to further expand the educational exchanges and people-to-people ties, as well as work together to confront common challenges from climate change to workforce development to help security. “As the world's oldest and largest democracies and key security providers in the Indo-Pacific, the US and India are increasingly partners of the first resort as a combined force for global good both in the Indo-Pacific and elsewhere. India will be a critical strategic partner for the US in the coming decades,” said the official.
India's growing commitment to playing a more engaged international role, including in the Indo-Pacific and Quad demonstrates a new and growing willingness to join the US to protect and advance a shared vision of a free, open and rule-based rules-based global order.
The Quad or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue comprises India, the US, Japan and Australia.
The Biden administration is hosting India for an Official State Visit to put the cooperation on an inexorable trajectory.
“After years of strengthening ties in a bipartisan context, the US-India partnership is deeper and more expansive than it ever has been. We now...work cooperatively to uphold a free and open Indo-Pacific to drive innovation, and to jointly tackle global challenges as the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic. Together and working with other like-minded partners, our countries will shape the future by working towards a world that is open, prosperous, secure, stable and resilient,” said the official.