Biden and Modi discuss Covid-19, Myanmar coup, climate change

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet to President-elect Joe Biden on his victory at the polls. Photo: Twitter @narendramodi

Three weeks after he entered the Oval Office, President Joe Biden spoke with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Biden has already spoken one-on-one with several leaders including first Canada, followed by Mexico, United Kingdom, France, Germany, NATO Secretary General, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and Australia,

The heads-of-state call between Biden and Modi was preceded on Jan. 27, by a call from U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to his counterpart Ajit Doval in India, where Sullivan reaffirmed President Biden’s commitment to “a strong and enduring U.S.-India strategic partnership” and continuing close cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

Biden and Modi committed that the United States and India will work closely together to win the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, among other global goals.

The two leaders of the oldest and largest democracies, agreed to renew their partnership on climate change, (Trump had pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord), rebuild the global economy “in a way that benefits the people of both countries,” and “stand together against the scourge of global terrorism” a readout from the White House said.

Biden and Modi also agreed to continue close cooperation to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific, including support for freedom of navigation, territorial integrity, and a stronger regional architecture through the Quad.

The U.S. President “underscored his desire to defend democratic institutions and norms around the world and noted that a shared commitment to democratic values is the bedrock for the U.S.-India relationship,” the readout said.

The two leaders resolved that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld in Burma.

They also agreed to stay in close touch on a range of global challenges and look forward to what the United States and India will achieve together for their people and for their nations, the readout said.

President Biden has yet to make a call to China’s Xi Jin Ping and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

When President Barack Obama took over office, the first leader he invited on a state visit to Washington was India’s Manmohan Singh in 2009, in what was then seen as a ratcheting up of relations.

The Biden White House has been conducting almost all its diplomacy to date via phone calls presumably in light of the Covid-19 crisis, and is yet to announce any state visits,.

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