Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday emplaned for his visit to the United States that he described would be an “occasion to strengthen Indo-US ties”.
“At the invitation of Joe Biden, I am visiting the USA to continue our dialogue, and exchange views on areas of mutual interest. Also looking forward to meeting Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss global issues and explore ideas for cooperation between India and US,” Modi tweeted.
During his trip, Prime Minister Modi will visit both Washington and New York. In a statement just before leaving for the US, Modi said he will conclude his visit with an address at the United Nations General Assembly focusing on the pressing global challenges including the Covid-19 pandemic, the need to combat terrorism, climate change, and other important issues.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will first attend a summit hosted by Biden on Covid-19 on Wednesday itself. This will be their first in-person meeting since Biden assumed office in January this year, although they have spoken thrice since November and participated in virtual summits.
PM Modi was supposed to travel to the UK for the G-7 summit where he could have met Biden, but had to cancel the trip due to the second Covid-19 wave across India.
Biden would then host Modi for their first in-person bilateral meeting at the White House on September 24.
On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the Afghanistan issue was also on the agenda of the Quad and bilateral between Modi and Biden, along with terrorism.
He said the meeting will discuss the “current regional security situation following recent developments in Afghanistan”, considering India’s stakes as a “neighbour and a longstanding and preferred development partner of the people of Afghanistan”.
During their meeting on September 23, Shringla said, the two leaders will review the “robust and multifaceted” India-US bilateral relationship. “They will also discuss how the comprehensive strategic global partnership between our two countries can be enriched further. The two leaders are expected to discuss how to bolster bilateral trade and investment ties, strengthen defence and security collaboration, boost strategic clean energy partnership, explore new avenues in emerging technologies, including through R&D, innovation, and industry linkages.”
PM Modi will also meet Vice-President Kamala Harris. This will be Modi’s first formal interaction with the first Indian-origin VP in the US administration.
“I am also looking forward to meeting Vice President Kamala Harris to explore opportunities for cooperation between our two nations particularly in the area of science and technology,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s office said before his departure.
According to Shringla, Modi and Harris are also likely to exchange views on bilateral, regional, and global issues of mutual interest.
Harris had called up Modi in June this year for the supply of Covid-19 vaccines.
Modi will also participate in the first in-person Quad Leaders’ Summit along with President Biden, Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan.
“The Summit provides an opportunity to take stock of the outcomes of our Virtual Summit in March this year and identify priorities for future engagements based on our shared vision for the Indo-Pacific region,” the PMO said.
Earlier while announcing the Quad meeting, the Biden administration had mentioned elevating the Quad was a “priority”.
“Hosting the leaders of the Quad demonstrates the Biden-Harris Administration’s priority of engaging in the Indo-Pacific, including through new multilateral configurations to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” a statement from the White House had said.
“The Quad Leaders will be focused on deepening our ties and advancing practical cooperation on areas such as combatting COVID-19, addressing the climate crisis, partnering on emerging technologies and cyberspace, and promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific,” it said.
Along with the Quad meeting, Prime Minister Modi will also hold a bilateral meeting with Morrison and Suga.
Following his engagements in Washington, Prime Minister Modi will then travel to New York to address the ongoing 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 24.
According to the release by the PMO, Modi’s speech at the UNGA will focus on the pressing global challenges including the Covid-19 pandemic, the need to combat terrorism, climate change, and other important issues.
During his visit, the prime minister will be accompanied by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and NSA Ajit Doval. Jaishankar is currently in New York, and recently met his counterparts from France, Australia, UK, Norway, and Iraq among others.
Prime Minister Modi is also expected to meet some business CEOs during his visit, before returning back to India on September 25.
According to news agency ANI, the PM will meet the Heads of Qualcomm, Adobe, First Solar, General Atomics, and Blackstone in Washington on September 23.
Modi last visited the US in September 2019, when then US President Donald Trump had addressed the Howdy Modi event – the Prime Minister’s “abki baar Trump sarkar” line had not gone down well with the Democratic party’s establishment.
Two years since, it will be an effort to reach out to the Democratic establishment, which has been quite vocal about the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
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