Modi and Biden Discuss Covid, Climate Change and Indo-Pacific During First Tele-Meeting

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US president-elect Joe Biden said they would work closely to advance the bilateral comprehensive global strategic partnership and to cooperate in areas ranging from post-Covid-19 recovery to the Indo-Pacific, during the first ever Phone Meeting between Narendra Modi and Joe Biden on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.

During a phone conversation with Biden, Modi discussed the shared concerns and priorities of India and the US. He also congratulated Biden on his election, describing it as “testament to the strength and resilience of democratic traditions in the US”, according to a readout from the external affairs ministry.

US President-elect Joe Biden called Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday night, during which the PM congratulated Biden and reiterated New Delhi’s commitment to the Indo-US strategic partnership and discussed their “shared priorities and concerns”.

After the phone call, Modi tweeted, “Spoke to US President-elect @JoeBiden on phone to congratulate him. We reiterated our firm commitment to the Indo-US strategic partnership and discussed our shared priorities and concerns — Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region.”

“I also conveyed warm congratulations for VP-elect @KamalaHarris. Her success is a matter of great pride and inspiration for members of the vibrant Indian-American community, who are a tremendous source of strength for Indo-US relations.”

Of the three issues that Modi flagged, the first two, Indo-Pacific and Covid-19, are areas of continuity between the Trump and Biden presidencies, while climate change is an old favourite of the Democratic administration. “The leaders agreed to work closely to further advance the India-US comprehensive global strategic partnership, built on shared values and common interests,” the readout said.

They also discussed their priorities, “including containing the Covid-19 pandemic, promoting access to affordable vaccines, tackling climate change, and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region”.

Modi recalled his earlier interactions with Biden, including during his official visits to the US in 2014 and 2016. Biden had chaired the joint session of the US Congress addressed by Modi during the 2016 visit.

Earlier, Modi had congratulated Biden and Harris on Twitter on November 8, when it became clear the Democratic Party candidate was set to clinch the presidential election.

He had lauded Biden on a “spectacular victory” and described his contributions as the former vice president to strengthening Indo-US relations as “critical and invaluable”. He had added, “I look forward to working closely together once again to take India-US relations to greater heights.”

On the same day, Modi had also congratulated Harris through a tweet, saying: “Your success is path breaking, and a matter of immense pride not just for your chittis, but also for all Indian-Americans. I am confident that the vibrant India-US ties will get even stronger with your support and leadership.”

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