Joe Biden and Narendra Modi tout the ‘new energy’ of their partnership

At a joint press conference on Thursday, the US president and Indian prime minister touted a bilateral relationship “stronger, closer and more dynamic than ever”. Narendra Modi’s state visit to the White House came as Washington seeks to strengthen its position against Beijing.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday (June 22) touted in Washington the “new energy” of partnership with the United States while rejecting, in a rare exchange with the press, criticism of his record on rights and freedoms.

In a long press release, which unfolds military, technological and economic projects in 58 points, Joe Biden and his guest claim to have established “the most comprehensive vision to date for the progress of the bilateral relationship”, and write that their “ambitions will reach new heights” in the future.

The American president, anxious to tighten the bond with India to stand up to China, praised during a press conference a bilateral relationship “stronger, closer and more dynamic than ever”.


Something very rare, if not unprecedented, for a leader who avoids interactions of this kind, the Hindu nationalist leader responded during this event to an American journalist. The latter questioned him about the accusations of repression of Muslims and authoritarian drift issued by many associations as well as by the UN. “In India’s democratic values, there is absolutely no discrimination, [y compris sur la base de la religion]”, he said.

Narendra Modi in Washington, June 22, 2023. © Stefani Reynolds, AFP

The topic followed Narendra Modi during his address to the US Congress. “We welcome all the religions of the world and we honor them all”, he still assured in the hemicycle of the House of Representatives. Democratic parliamentarians, yet allies of the president, boycotted his visit, accusing the Modi government of “targeting Muslims and other religious minorities”.

Read alsoNarendra Modi in Washington: Joe Biden’s anti-Chinese three-cushion table

Narendra Modi had, before becoming prime minister nine years ago, been unwanted for years in the United States because of “serious violations of religious freedom”. He was accused of having done nothing, as ruler of the state of Gujarat, to contain deadly violence against Muslims.

This time, no more visa problem, but the red carpet and all the pomp of the White House for the Indian Prime Minister, in the name of common strategic interests against the Chinese giant. India is embroiled in a border dispute with China, while Joe Biden seeks to strengthen his position in the all-out rivalry between Washington and Beijing.

Narendra Modi in the US Congress, June 22, 2023
Narendra Modi in the US Congress, June 22, 2023 © Pedro Ugarte, AFP

The American president, however, assured that he still hoped to meet “soon” his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, whom he recently put in the category of “dictators”, to the chagrin of Beijing.

Received in the morning with military honors for his arrival, Narendra Modi was treated to an elegant vegetarian dinner in the evening, under a tent decked in green erected in the gardens of the White House. The Indian Prime Minister toasted – without alcohol, because like Joe Biden, he does not drink it, and in English – to the “unbreakable ties of friendship” between the two countries.

Narendra Modi – who had a very good relationship with Donald Trump, Joe Biden’s predecessor and his potential rival for the 2024 presidential election – multiplied the thanks, compliments and warm anecdotes for his host.

The US president raised his glass of ginger ale to “two great nations, two great friends, two great powers.” He also praised the human ties between the two countries, giving the example of Vice President Kamala Harris, whose mother left India for the United States at the age of 19.


The strongest announcement on Thursday is the future manufacturing in India of F-414 engines for fighter jets by conglomerate General Electric. It is a “founding” partnership, estimated Narendra Modi, synonymous with significant transfers of American technology. India will also acquire American combat drones.

US President Joe Biden (right), US First Lady Jill Biden (left) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (center) at the White House on June 21, 2023
US President Joe Biden (right), US First Lady Jill Biden (left) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (center) at the White House on June 21, 2023 © Mandel Ngan, AFP

Joe Biden can only be delighted to see India diversifying its defense equipment, which is historically dependent on Russia in this area, and which has adopted a reserved position vis-à-vis Moscow since the invasion of Ukraine. Narendra Modi, however, called on Thursday, in his joint statement with the American president, to respect “the territorial integrity and sovereignty” of Ukraine.

The visit also served to deepen the economic and technological relationship, as the United States has become India’s largest trading partner. The two countries thus settled several commercial disputes on Thursday. The American group Micron, heavyweight in the manufacture of these essential computer components, has announced an investment of more than 800 million dollars in a factory in India. It is for both countries to strengthen their national industries and diversify supply chains, which the Covid-19 pandemic has shown how fragile they can be.

In addition, the two countries intend to launch a joint mission next year to the international space station, while India joins the “Artemis agreements”, a multilateral framework set at the initiative of the United States to avoid conflicts in space conquest and exploration.

The United States is not alone in courting India. Narendra Modi will be the guest of honor at the French National Day military parade in Paris on July 14.

With AFP

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