The leaders of the world’s two biggest democracies agreed on Monday to strengthen their partnership at a time when both countries are facing strained relations with China.
The White House said in a statement that US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “agreed to continue their close cooperation to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific”.
The leaders also “resolved that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld” in Myanmar, days after the military coup there, reports the Associated Press.
Biden and Modi are no strangers. As a senator, Biden was an important advocate of the 2008 civil nuclear deal between the countries which paved the way for the supply of US high-tech equipment and technology that India wanted.
That accord ended India’s isolation after it had conducted nuclear tests in 1998 and refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Washington is also supporting India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a group of nuclear supplier countries that seeks to contribute to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapon, a move that has been blocked by China.
Currently, India is in the midst of a nine-month long military standoff with China along their disputed border in eastern Ladakh. Tens of thousands of soldiers are facing each other at friction points in the mountains in sub-zero temperatures.
Modi wished Biden success as he launches his administration, tweeting: “President @JoeBiden and I are committed to a rules-based international order. We look forward to consolidating our strategic partnership to further peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.”
Modi also had a warm relationship with former president Donald Trump who last year, weeks before the pandemic locked down much of the globe, made a two-day visit to India that included a noisy rally at a massive cricket stadium.
Trump hosted Modi in 2019 in the US, a visit that included a side trip to Houston that drew over 50,000 people, many from the large Indian diaspora in the US.