Washington, Jun 22: Indo-US ties on Thursday appeared to be on the cusp of an upward leap as President Joe Biden described them as one of the most defining relationships in the 21st century while Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that the US leader's commitment to their bond has inspired his country to take "bold and audacious" steps.
Modi held one-on-one talks with Biden in the Oval Office of the White House before holding delegation-level talks. Both leaders discussed a wide range of issues of mutual and global interests, aimed at further boosting the Indo-US strategic relations in areas like defence, space, clean energy and critical technologies.
In his initial remarks, Modi told Biden that the President's commitment to the ties between the two countries has inspired India to take bold and audacious measures.
He also described strong people-to-people ties as the real engine of India-US relationship and referred to the energetic diaspora crowd in the White House to assert that a "roar" was heard about this connect.
"Today India and the US are walking shoulder-to-shoulder from the depths of the ocean to heights of the sky, from ancient culture to artificial intelligence," Modi said.
The diplomatic relations between the two countries are generally spoken in terms of joint statement, working groups, he said, adding that they are indeed important. "But the real engine of India-US relations is our strong people-to-people ties," he said.
Noting that Modi and Biden are meeting on all the three days of the Indian leader's stay in Washington, official sources said the prime minister's maiden state visit to the US is likely to deepen the two countries' like never before.
This was the second interaction between the two leaders within 24 hours.
President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden hosted Prime Minister Modi for an intimate dinner at the White House a day earlier during which they discussed a range of issues, exchanged gifts and enjoyed a musical tribute to the regions of India.
Modi-Biden Bilateral Talks in US Video
#WATCH | Washington, DC | Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden shake hands as the two leaders hold a bilateral meeting at the Oval Office of the White House. pic.twitter.com/XPrxzbJU9E
— ANI (@ANI) June 22, 2023
Biden earlier accorded a grand welcome to Modi, saying "Welcome back to the White House," amid cheers from the large Indian-American crowd gathered on the South Lawn of the White House.
In their remarks at the welcome ceremony, the two leaders mentioned both countries shared democratic values and pluralism and noted that their constitutions begin with "We the people", a nod to their robust democratic spirit.
Biden earlier said that with India's cooperation, they have strengthened QUAD for a free, open, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific. Modi earlier said at his welcome ceremony that societies and institutions of both the US and India are based on democratic values and both countries take pride in their diversity.
Thanking Biden, his wife Jill Biden and the US administration for a warm and grand welcome, Modi said this is the first time the gates of the White House have been opened for Indian-Americans in such large numbers.
"This grand welcome ceremony at the White House today is an honour and pride for 1.4 billion people of India. This is also an honour for more than 4 million people of Indian origin living in the US. For this honour, I express my heartfelt gratitude to President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden," Modi said.
He said both countries take pride in their diversity, and "both of us believe in the fundamental principle of 'In the interest of all, for the welfare of all'".
He said about three decades ago, he had come to America as a common man and at that time, he had seen the White House from the outside.
"After becoming the Prime Minister, I've come here many times, but today for the first time the doors of the White House have been opened for the Indian-American community in such large numbers," he added.
He said Indian community members are enhancing India's glory in the US through their hard work and dedication. The day began with President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden greeting Prime Minister Modi for the Official Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn. The two national anthems were played along with a 21-gun salute to the visiting leader.
Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff were also present at the welcome ceremony. The prime minister would also deliver an address to the joint meeting of the US Congress, which would be attended by Congressmen and senators in the presence of several hundred Indian Americans from the visitor's gallery.
In the evening, President Biden and the First Lady will host a State Dinner at the South Lawn of the White House, which is expected to be attended by 400 guests. Preparations for the visit have been going on for more than six months now and a lot of efforts have gone to ensure that the deliverables are historical in nature.
"This visit will affirm the deep and close partnership between the United States and India and the warm bonds of family and friendship that link Americans and Indians together,” the White House said on Wednesday.
"The visit will strengthen our two countries' shared commitment to a free, open, prosperous, and secure Indo-Pacific and shared resolve to elevate the technology partnership, including in defence, clean energy, and space,” it said.
Modi arrived in Washington from New York where he led a historic event at the UN headquarters earlier in the day to commemorate the 9th International Day of Yoga, attended by UN officials, diplomats and prominent personalities.
He is visiting the US from June 21-24 at the invitation of President Joe Biden and the First Lady.
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