PM Modi meets US Vice President Kamala Harris; discusses bilateral ties, Indo-Pacific

PM Modi recalls "kinds words of solidarity" from US VP Kamala Harris when India was battling a tough second wave of COVID-19.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday 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, 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.

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.

"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 also discussed the COVID-19 situation in their countries, including the ongoing efforts to contain the pandemic through expedited vaccination efforts, and ensuring supply of critical medicines, therapeutics and healthcare equipment, it said.

"As relates to the Indo-Pacific, the US stresses on maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific, Harris said, amidst China's aggressive moves in the strategically vital region.

India, the US, 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.

Harris said the world is more interconnected and more interdependent than ever before. And the challenges that we face today have highlighted that COVID-19, climate crisis, and the importance of our shared belief in the Indo-Pacific region, she said.

Both sides acknowledged the importance of collaborative action on climate change. The Prime Minister spoke about India's push for increasing renewable energy and the recently launched National Hydrogen Mission. He also emphasised the importance of lifestyle changes to promote environmental sustainability, the statement said.

Modi noted that he had the opportunity to speak to Harris after she assumed the Vice Presidency. "One of our interactions happened when India was battling a very tough wave of COVID-19 infections. I recall your kind words of solidarity that time," Modi said.

India was confronted with the second wave of the COVID 19 pandemic. A very difficult time for India, he said. Like a family, the sense of kinship and so warmly, you extended a helping hand, the words that you chose when you spoke to me, I will always remember that, and I'd like to thank you from the bottom of my heart, the prime minister said.

"Like a true friend, you had given a message of cooperation, and were very full of sensitivity and immediately after that we found that the US government, the US corporate sector and the Indian community, all came together to help India, he said.

Modi said that the US Government, companies based in the USA, and the Indian diaspora were very helpful when India was fighting a tough wave of COVID-19 infections.

Both leaders acknowledged the vibrant people-to-people linkages as the bedrock of the mutually beneficial education linkages and the flow of knowledge, innovation and talent between our two countries.

Modi said that four million people of Indian origin are acting as a bridge of friendship between the two countries.

Harris also described India as a "very important partner" to the US and welcomed New Delhi's announcement that it will soon resume vaccine export.

On the issue of the climate crisis, Harris told Modi that the US working together with India can have not only a profound impact on people of nations but around the world itself.

Harris said that it is incumbent on the two nations to protect democracies in the best interests of people of the two countries.

"As democracies around the world are under threat, it is imperative that we defend democratic principles and institutions within our respective countries and around the world. And that we maintain what we must do to strengthen democracies at home and it is incumbent on our nations to of course protect democracies in the best interests of people of our countries, she said.

Their meeting comes a day ahead of the maiden bilateral meeting between Modi and President Joe Biden and the Quad Leaders' Summit at the White House on Friday.

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.

Edited by Megha Reddy


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