Committed to making US-India partnership among closest on earth: Prez Biden tells PM Modi in Japan

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he is committed to making America’s partnership with India among the closest on earth, saying there is so much that the two countries can and will do together.The two leaders are in Japan for the second Quad leaders’ in-person summit.

President Biden, during a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Modi after the Quad summit, praised India’s Covid vaccination efforts. Biden said he was pleased that the two countries have reached an agreement for the US Development Finance Corporation to continue this important work in India, supporting vaccine production, clean energy initiatives.

“I am glad that we are renewing the Indo-US Vaccine Action Programme,” he said.“There is so much that our countries can and will do together. I am committed to make the US-India partnership among the closest we have on earth,” Biden said.On the issue of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US President said that the two leaders also discussed the ongoing effects of Russia’s brutal and non-justified invasion of Ukraine and the effect it has on the entire global world order.

“The US-India is going to continue consulting closely on how to mitigate these negative effects,” Biden said.The US, along with its allies including Japan, has been one of the world’s most outspoken critics of the Russian invasion in Ukraine. Earlier, Prime Minister Modi, US President Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Australia’s newly-elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese attended the second in-person meeting of Quad leaders here during which they exchanged views about developments in the Indo-Pacific region and global issues of mutual interest.

The Quad summit is taking place under the shadow of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.It is also taking place at a time when the relations between China and the Quad member countries have become tense, with Beijing increasingly challenging democratic values and resorting to coercive trade practices.India, the US and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China’s rising military manoeuvring in the region.

China claims nearly all of the disputed South China Sea, though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam all claim parts of it. Beijing has built artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea.On the eve of the summit, Biden on Monday launched the ambitious Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), which is an initiative aimed at deeper cooperation among like-minded countries in areas such as clean energy, supply-chain resilience and digital trade.

The rollout of the IPEF is expected to send across a signal that the US is focused on pushing forward a strong economic policy for the region to counter China’s aggressive strategy on trade in the region.In March last year, President Biden hosted the first-ever summit of the Quad leaders in the virtual format that was followed by an in-person summit in Washington in September. The Quad leaders also held a virtual meeting in March.Australia will host the next Quad summit in 2023.

In November 2017, India, Japan, the US and Australia gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the Quad to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence, amidst China’s growing military presence in the strategic region.

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