‘Big deal’: Modi to take 2 questions from media during presser with Biden

Modi and Biden are scheduled to address the press conference together from the East Room of the White House.

US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will deliver statements and answer questions from journalists on Thursday during the Indian leader’s state visit, an event described as a ‘big deal’ by a senior White House official.

Aside from the occasional interview, Modi rarely takes questions from the media. He has not given a single press conference in India since taking office over nine years ago. He gave a press conference in May 2019 but never took questions.

“We are just grateful that Prime Minister Modi is participating in a press event at the end of the visit. We think that’s important and we’re glad he thinks that’s important too,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said, according to a report by Reuters.

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Modi and Biden are scheduled to address the press conference together from the East Room of the White House.

PM Modi and President Joe Biden will have a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday before holding high-level talks to further boost the growing Indo-US strategic relations in areas like defence, space and critical technologies.

“This 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,” the White House said on Wednesday as Prime Minister Modi arrived here from New York or his first state visit to this country.

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

According to the White House, the two leaders will discuss ways to further expand educational exchanges and people-to-people ties, as well as work together to confront common challenges from climate change to workforce development and health security.

Prime Minister Modi has said that his visit to Washington and talks with President Biden will be an “opportunity to enrich the depth and diversity of our partnership.”

The two countries are collaborating closely in science & technology, education, health, defence and security fields, Modi said in his departure statement on Tuesday.

“Our two countries are also collaborating to further our shared vision of a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific,” he said, amidst China’s aggressive actions in the region.

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

The day would begin with President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden greeting Prime Minister Modi for the Official Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn which includes a 21-gun salute.

Several thousand Indian Americans are expected to attend the welcome ceremony on the South Lawns. There are chances that the rain might spoil the welcome ceremony, but it is unlikely to dampen the spirit of thousands of Indian Americans who have converged in the American capital from far and near.

Vice President Kamala Harris and the Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff would be attending the welcome ceremony. Thereafter, the leaders of the two largest democracies of the world will hold a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, where they are expected to make some opening remarks.

(With excerpts from PTI).

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