Modi and Biden pull up Pakistan as Indian prime minister wraps up high-profile US visit

Flurry of deals on defence and space exploration with Nasa announced by world leaders in joint statement

Shweta Sharma
Friday 23 June 2023 13:24 BST

Modi says ‘no space’ in India for religious discrimination

India and the US “strongly condemned” cross-border terrorism and called on Pakistan to disallow the use of its soil for terrorist attacks in a joint statement that declared the two countries “among the closest partners in the world”.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and US president Joe Biden held more than three hours of bilateral, closed-door talks, followed by a 400-person soiree and a joint statement.

Apart from announcements of some landmark deals, the statement included a warning over rising tensions in the East and South China Sea, Ukraine, North Korea and the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and Myanmar.

The US and India “stand together to counter global terrorism and unequivocally condemn terrorism” in all its forms and manifestations, the joint statement on Pakistan said.

Mr Modi and Mr Biden “strongly condemned cross-border terrorism, the use of terrorist proxies and called on Pakistan to take immediate action to ensure that no territory under its control is used for launching terrorist attacks,” it said.

India has long accused Pakistan of helping Islamist militants wage a proxy war in its part of Kashmir since the late 1980s. Pakistan denies the accusation and says it only provides diplomatic and moral support for Kashmiris seeking self-determination.

The two neighbours have fought three wars, including two over the Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Kashmir, which they both claim in full, but rule in part.

“President Biden and Prime Minister Modi reiterated the call for concerted action against all UN-listed terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda, ISIS/Daesh, Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), and Hizb-ul-Mujhahideen,” the joint statement said.

The two leaders announced a flurry of deals to strengthen economic and diplomatic ties and highlight new private sector investments.

Major announcements were made for US visa relaxations for Indians, US chipmaker firm Micron’s investment in Gujarat and an agreement to make fighter jet engines for the Indian Air Force among others, according to the joint statement.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi delivers remarks to a joint meeting of Congress at the US Capitol

India signed a deal to buy 31 drones made by General Atomics worth slightly over $3bn and joined the US-led Artemis Accords on space exploration to work with Nasa on a joint mission to the International Space Station in 2024.

Frustrated over India’s close ties with Russia amid its war in Ukraine, Washington wants India to be a strategic counterweight to China and sees India as a critical partner.

Locked in its own territorial dispute in the Himalayan mountains with China, Mr Modi refrained from mentioning Beijing directly in his speeches.

“The dark clouds of coercion and confrontation are casting their shadow in the Indo Pacific,” Mr Modi said addressing a joint meeting of Congress. “The stability of the region has become one of the central concerns of our partnership.”

Lawmakers warmly welcomed Mr Modi to the House chamber with a loud standing ovation.

As he approached the dais, they lined up to shake his hand, with some in the gallery even chanting his name. A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and others escorted the prime minister into the room.

The joint statement also alluded to Beijing as Mr Biden and Modi expressed concern over “unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo by force”.

They also called for “the maintenance of freedom of navigation and overflight, in addressing challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the East and South China Seas”.

Without mentioning Russia, the two leaders “expressed their deep concern over the conflict in Ukraine and mourned its terrible and tragic humanitarian consequences”.

In more light-hearted moments, Mr Biden joked over their sobriety, saying “neither of us drinks” as the two raised a toast with glasses of ginger ale. Mr Biden drank to the health of “two great nations, two great friends, and two great powers”.

Mr Modi also joked about being able to sing.

“I know your hospitality has moved your guests to sing. I wish, I too, had the singing talent,” Mr Modi said in reference to South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol’s rendition of “American Pie” in the White House.

“I could have also sang before you all.”

He brought up his 2014 visit and said he will make up for not eating then as he was on a fast. Mr Modi said Mr Biden had kept asking him what he could eat.

“But it was not possible for me to eat anything and you were quite concerned about it,” he said. “Well today, I’m making up for it. All that you desired at that time with so much affection is being fulfilled today.”

Additional reporting by agencies

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in