India’s PM Modi Arrives in US for Landmark State Visit to Deepen Ties

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in New York on Tuesday for his first state visit to the United States as the two nations seek to deepen relations amid China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific.

Modi has been to the United States five times since becoming prime minister in 2014, but his visit this week, which will run until Saturday, will be his first with the full diplomatic status of a state visit.

The White House stated that Modi’s state visit would affirm the close partnership between the United States and India. Modi will meet President Joe Biden on Wednesday and attend a state dinner.

Modi kicked off his trip by addressing the International Day of Yoga and meeting with U.S. business leaders, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who expressed interest in making significant investments in India.

“I am confident that my visit to the U.S. will reinforce our ties based on shared values of democracy, diversity, and freedom. Together we stand stronger in meeting the shared global challenges,” Modi said ahead of his visit.

Modi’s visit came amid an ongoing rivalry between the United States and China in the Indo-Pacific. India recently surpassed China as the world’s most populous country, indicating a potential shift in their global status.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that Modi’s visit to the United States was not intended to counter China’s influence, but rather to boost bilateral relations with India.

“It’s not about forcing or coercing or trying to convince Prime Minister Modi or the Indian government to do something different. It’s about focusing on where we are in this relationship and making it more important, more robust, more cooperative going forward,” he said.

Defense Cooperation

Kirby said the visit will enhance the U.S.–India shared commitments to a free and open Indo-Pacific and elevate their strategic technology partnership, including in defense, clean energy, and space.

“India will be a critical strategic partner for the United States in the coming decades,” he told reporters.

A senior U.S. Defense official stated that both countries will rapidly expand their military and defense cooperation, including “co-producing and co-developing major systems together.”

“We now have working groups on everything ranging from cyberspace and critical technologies to maritime security, and India is leading in those forums together with the U.S. and like-minded partners,” the official said.

U.S. congressional leaders have also invited Modi to address a joint meeting, which they said would allow Modi to share his vision for India’s future and “speak to the global challenges our countries both face.”

This would be Modi’s second address to a joint session of the U.S. legislature, following his 2016 address, a rare honor for a leader once denied a visa to enter the United States over human rights concerns.

Human Rights Concerns

Over 70 U.S. lawmakers—led by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)—urged Biden to raise human rights violations and democratic values in India during his meeting with Modi.

In a bicameral letter, the lawmakers said that “a series of independent, credible reports reflect troubling signs in India toward the shrinking of political space, the rise of religious intolerance, the targeting of civil society organizations and journalists, and growing restrictions on press freedoms and internet access.”

“We do not endorse any particular Indian leader or political party—that is the decision of the people of India—but we do stand in support of the important principles that should be a core part of American foreign policy,” they said.

“And we ask that, during your meeting with Prime Minister Modi, you discuss the full range of issues important to a successful, strong, and long-term relationship between our two great countries,” they added.

During a press briefing in Washington, Kirby declined to comment on whether Biden would raise the issue, but noted that it is “commonplace” and “consistent” for Biden to raise concerns about human rights.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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