In the 3rd year of his presidency, Biden invites Modi for Official State Visit

FILE PHOTO-President of the U.S. Joe Biden speaks with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi at the G20 Summit opening session in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. PRASETYO UTOMO/G20 Media Center/Handout via REUTERS

President Joe Biden has invited India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an official state visit June 22, 2023. While this is not Prime Minister ModI’s first trip to the White House, an official state visit goes beyond every-day diplomacy, in displaying the pomp and circumstance as well as depth and significance of a bilateral relationship. And this is a time when the bilateral relationship is at its height in terms of expanding the reach to the Indo-Pacific. And like all past visits, US-India relations have always had challenges that require a public face and a private negotiation, this time with Ukraine and the Russian invasion and India’s domestic politics, moving simultaneously with increased defense and national security collaboration.

At this initial stage of the upcoming visit, no details other than the date are revealed. But it has been a long time coming as it does, into the 3rd year of the Biden presidency. That’s in contrast to President Obama’s tenure when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the first leader of a country to be invited for an official state visit early into the Obama administration, November 24, 2009.

However, both Biden and Modi have met not just as part of The Quad for Indo-Pacific at the White House, but they’ve been together and other forums be it in East Asia or Europe. And top officials and lawmakers like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, from both administrations have been meeting on a regular basis both in Washington and New Delhi, some for their own agendas and constituencies in US, and others for ironing out the nitty gritty of defense, trade, visa, Russia, and even rights issues.

“President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will host Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Republic of India for an Official State Visit to the United States, which will include a state dinner, on June 22, 2023,” the White House Press Officer Karine Jean Pierre announced May 10.

“The upcoming 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,” Jean Pierre said.

President Biden has probably the highest number of Indian-American appointees and nominees during his three years in office than any previous administration. But the mosts difficult appointment to push through was that of an Ambassador to India, a position that lay vacant until recently when Ambassador Eric Garcetti was finally cleared by the US Senate.

“The visit will strengthen our two countries’ shared commitment to a free, open, prosperous, and secure Indo-Pacific and our shared resolve to elevate our strategic technology partnership, including in defense, clean energy, and space,” the spokesperson said.

“The leaders will discuss ways to further expand our educational exchanges and people-to-people ties, as well as our work together to confront common challenges from climate change, to workforce development and health security,” Jean Pierre added.

However, during a press briefing the same day, questions about whether human rights would be discussed when the two leaders meet. Jean-Pierre told reporters Biden believes “this is an important relationship that we need to continue and build on as it relates to human rights.”

New Delhi called it a ‘historic visit’ which “offers a valuable opportunity for India and the US to further deepen a comprehensive and forward-looking global strategic partnership.”

India’s Ministry of External Affairs put out a statement echoing Washington’s views about the June 22 visit.

“The visit will underscore the growing importance of the strategic partnership between India and the United States as the two nations collaborate across numerous sectors,” the MEA statement said.

“The leaders will have the opportunity to review strong bilateral cooperation in various areas of mutual interest, including technology, trade, industry, education, research, clean energy, defense, security, healthcare, and deepening people-to-people connections,” the Government of India said.

“Prime Minister Modi and President Biden will also explore ways to strengthen India-US collaboration in pluri-lateral and multilateral fora, including in the G20. They would reflect on their shared vision for a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific and discuss opportunities to expand and consolidate the Quad engagement,” MEA added.




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