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White House Hosts Historic Summit Between Biden and Modi

White House Hosts Historic Summit Between Biden and Modi

In preparation for Thursday night’s state banquet, President Obama and Vice President Biden hosted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a private dinner on Wednesday. “featuring a few of the President’s favorite foods, including pasta and ice cream,” the White House stated, the Bidens, Modi, and White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval dined together.

Before sitting down to dinner, Vice President Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessed a performance by dancers from Studio Dhoom, a local Indian dance studio. The White House announced that President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump would present Modi with a handmade, antique American book galley from the early 20th century as a gift.

The White House announced that Vice President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden would each present Narendra Modi with a signed first edition copy of Robert Frost’s “Collected Poems,” as well as a vintage American camera and a hardcover book of American wildlife photography.

During Modi’s official visit to the United States, which begins with a dinner on Wednesday, the two leaders are likely to discuss extending collaboration on critical global concerns including climate change and strengthening defense connections and technological partnership between the two countries.

The visit coincides with increased efforts by the Biden administration to deepen ties with India as it grows its global clout. A spokesperson for the National Security Council, John Kirby, told reporters on Tuesday that the United States does not see India as a more consequential partner in aiding along those lines than India.

According to Kirby, the conflict in Ukraine and relations between India and Russia are also likely to be discussed. Relations between New Delhi and Washington have cooled in recent years due to issues such as Russia’s war in Ukraine and India’s human rights record.

India is neutral in the Russia-Ukraine conflict; it has not condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and it continues to import oil from Russia despite Western sanctions. However, the United States and India continue to agree on crucial goals, such as limiting China’s regional and global influence.

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In recent years, there have been a number of border incidents between Chinese and Indian troops. In a hand-to-hand battle with the Chinese military in June of 2020, twenty Indian soldiers were slain; a similar battle occurred in December of the same year. According to the White House, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, which was introduced by the Trump administration last year to offset China’s economic clout in the region, would benefit from Modi’s visit as well.

Concern for the survival of India’s democracy is also rising, and analysts think that the room for dissenting from government policies is shrinking, therefore Biden and Modi have agreed to meet. This month, Elaine Pearson, the Asia director for Human Rights Watch, wrote a letter to Vice President Biden stating that the human rights issues in India are “endangering” relations between the two countries.

In a letter to Pearson, supporters of the Indian prime minister urged him to utilize upcoming meetings with the leader to persuade Modi to take a new course for his administration and his party. On Tuesday, Kirby briefed reporters but avoided answering questions on human rights issues related to Modi’s visit. He defined human rights as a “foundational element” of Biden’s foreign policy and said he “routinely” raises human rights concerns with foreign leaders.

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“The two leaders can speak for themselves after the meeting is over,” Kirby said. Before the state supper on Thursday, Modi will address a joint session of Congress. The meal, which will be held in a tent pavilion on the South Lawn, is believed to be expecting 400 attendees.

“With this official state visit, we are bringing together the world’s oldest and the world’s largest democracies. After years of strengthening ties, the U.S.-India partnership is deep and expansive as we jointly tackle global challenges,” Jill Biden said in remarks previewing the event.

“But our relationship isn’t only about the government. We’re celebrating the families and friendships that span the globe, those who feel the bonds of home, both in both of our countries.”

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