India, US should work and lead together: White House welcomes PM Modi

United States President Joe Biden said the societies and institutions of the two countries are based on democratic values and they take pride in their diversity.

Washington: President Joe Biden on Thursday said India and the US should work and lead together given the challenges and opportunities facing the world, as he accorded Prime Minister Narendra Modi a grand welcome at the White House, with the two countries set to sign a raft of mega defence, trade and space cooperation agreements.

“Welcome back to the White House,” Biden told Modi, as he arrived at the official residence of the US President on his maiden pomp-filled state visit amid rapturous cheers of ‘Modi, Modi’ from the crowd gathered on the South Lawn.

Glimpses from the ceremonial welcome for PM Narendra Modi at the White House (Photo: Twitter)

“The challenges and opportunities facing the world in this century require that India and the United States work and lead together… Two great nations, two great friends, two great powers that can define the course of the 21st century,” he said, describing the ties between the two countries as “one of the most defining” relationships in the 21st century.

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As the Biden administration rolled out the red carpet to Modi with the camaraderie between the US President and the Indian prime minister on full display, Modi in his response said India and the US are committed to working together for global good and peace, stability and prosperity.

He said the societies and institutions of the two countries are based on democratic values and they take pride in their diversity.

Indian diaspora during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s State Arrival Ceremony in White House, in Washington DC (Photo: Twitter)

With India and the US set to elevate their strategic partnership, GE Aerospace announced it has inked a pact with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to jointly produce fighter jet engines for Indian Air Force’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Mk-II Tejas.

A senior US administration official said the pact is a “trailblazing initiative” to manufacture F414 engines in India and will enable greater transfer of US jet engine technology than ever before.

After the ceremonial welcome and ahead of the delegation-level parleys, Modi held one-on-one talks with Biden at the Oval Office to discuss a wide range of issues of mutual and global interests, aimed at further boosting the Indo-US strategic relations in areas like defence, space, clean energy and critical technologies.

In his initial remarks, Modi told Biden that the President’s commitment to the ties between the two countries has prompted India to take “bold and audacious” measures.

Indian diaspora during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s State Arrival Ceremony
in White House, in Washington DC (PTI Photo)

He also described strong people-to-people ties as the real engine of the India-US relationship and referred to the energetic diaspora crowd in the White House to assert that a “roar” was heard about this connection.

“Today India and the US are walking shoulder-to-shoulder from the depths of the ocean to heights of the sky, from ancient culture to artificial intelligence,” Modi said.

The diplomatic relations between the two countries are generally spoken in terms of joint statement, working groups, he said, adding they are indeed important. “But the real engine of India-US relations is our strong people-to-people ties,” he added.

US President Joe Biden introduces his team to Prime Minister Narendra Modi (PTI Photo)

Modi, who is on his sixth visit to the US as prime minister, was welcomed at the South Lawn with a 21-gun salute and playing of the national anthems of India and the US.

Welcoming Modi, Biden said, “I’ve long believed that the relationship between the United States and India is one that will be one of the defining relationships of the 21st century. Two proud nations — two proud nations whose love of freedom secured our independence, bound by the same words and our Constitution.

“First three words, ‘We, the People’. The enduring ties and shared values between our people and the shared responsibility as global leaders to tackle the great issues of our time together. I’m honoured to be the first to have you here in 15 years.”

Biden said Indian-American diaspora reflects every part of American life and remains a bridge between our nations and only grow stronger with each generation.

“We see it with record numbers of Indian Americans serving in the United States Congress. We see it here at the White House where proud Americans of Indian heritage serve our country every day, including our vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris.

Glimpses from the ceremonial welcome for PM Narendra Modi at the White House (Photo: Twitter)

“The granddaughter — the proud granddaughter of an Indian civil servant; daughter of an Indian student, turned American scientist who came to the United States when she’s only 19 years old to pursue her dream of curing cancer. A family like so many of ours in our nation. That speaks to the thousand stories of determination courage and hope in America.”

Biden said these are stories that define the relationship and the limitless possibilities between the US and India.

Modi on his part said the Constitution of both countries begins with the “three words–We the People–as President Biden just mentioned”. He spoke in Hindi with the speech being translated to English. Biden’s remarks were earlier translated to Hindi.

Thanking Biden, his wife Jill Biden and the US administration for a warm and grand welcome, Modi said this is the first time the gates of the White House have been opened for Indian-Americans in such large numbers.

“This grand welcome ceremony at the White House today is an honour and pride for the 1.4 billion people of India. It is also an honour for more than 4 million people of Indian origin in the US.”

He said both countries take pride in their diversity, and “both of us believe in the fundamental principle of ‘In the interest of all, for the welfare of all'”.

He said about three decades ago, he had come to America as a common man and at that time, he had seen the White House from the outside.

“After becoming the PM, I’ve come many times, but today for the first time the doors of the White House have been opened for the Indian-American community in such large numbers.”

He said Indian community members were enhancing India’s glory in the US through their hard work and dedication.

Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff were also present at the welcome ceremony.

Several thousand Indian-Americans, who have converged in the American capital from far and near, attended the welcome ceremony. Indian Americans were chanting ‘USA USA’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Modi Modi.’

A mega deal on the purchase of General Atomics MQ-9 “Reaper” armed drones by India is also expected to be announced.

The drones would further bolster India’s national security and surveillance capabilities not only in the Indian Ocean but also along the frontier with China. The General Atomics MQ-9 “Reaper” can carry 500 per cent more payload and has nine times the horsepower in comparison to the earlier MQ-1 Predator.

“On space, we will be able to announce that India is signing the Artemis Accords, which advance a common vision for space exploration for the benefit of all humankind,” a senior administration official said hours before the Biden-Modi talks.

India has decided to join the Artemis Accords, which brings like-minded countries together on civil space exploration, and NASA and ISRO have agreed to a joint mission to the International Space Station in 2024, the White House said.

In another big ticket announcement, computer storage chip maker Micron said it will set up its semiconductor assembly and test plant in Gujarat entailing a total investment of USD 2.75 billion (around Rs 22,540 crore).

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