Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived here on Wednesday on an official visit to the US during which he will hold the first face-to-face meeting with President Joe Biden and his deputy Kamala Harris, attend the maiden in-person Quad summit and address the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Modi, who is visiting the US for the 7th time after assuming office in 2014, said his visit would be an occasion to strengthen the Indo-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership and consolidate ties with Japan and Australia.
“Landed in Washington DC. Over the next two days, will be meeting @POTUS @JoeBiden and @VP @KamalaHarris, Prime Ministers @ScottMorrisonMP and @sugawitter. Will attend the Quad meeting and would also interact with leading CEOs to highlight economic opportunities in India,” Modi tweeted.
He was received at the airport by senior officials of the Biden Administration and India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu.
“Namaste USA! PM @narendramodi was greeted on arrival by Shri Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Ambassador of India to USA and Mr. T. H. Brian McKeon, US Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted.
Despite heavy rains since early in the morning, a significant number of Indian Americans were also there at the Andrews Joint Airforce Base to welcome the Prime Minister.
“Exuberant members of the Indian diaspora welcoming PM @narendramodi upon landing in Washington D.C,” Bagchi tweeted along with pictures of Modi interacting with Indian-Americans.
Prime Minister Modi has a packed agenda over the next three days.
President Biden will host Modi at the White House for their first bilateral meeting on September 24. Later on that day, Biden will host the first-ever in-person Quad Leaders’ Summit with Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Both Biden and Prime Minister Modi have spoken virtually on multiple occasions after the former, a Democrat, became US president in January. The last telephone conversation between them took place on April 26.
Vice President Harris will meet Prime Minister Modi on September 23. This will be the first meeting between the two leaders. Harris had earlier spoken with Modi over the phone in June during the COVID-19 crisis.
Harris is the first woman, the first Black American, and the first South Asian American to be elected Vice President.
“During my visit, I will review the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership with President Biden and exchange views on regional and global issues of mutual interest,” Modi said just before leaving for the US.
“I am also looking forward to meeting Vice President Kamala Harris to explore opportunities for cooperation between our two nations particularly in the area of science and technology,” said Modi, who is visiting the US at the invitation of President Biden.
Modi said he will participate in the first in-person Quad Leaders’ Summit.
The Summit provides an opportunity to take stock of the outcomes of the Quad leaders’ Virtual Summit in March this year and identify priorities for future engagements based on our shared vision for the Indo-Pacific region, he said.
Prime Minister Modi will also hold bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Morrison and Prime Minister Suga and take stock of the strong bilateral relations.
“My visit to the US would be an occasion to strengthen the Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership with the USA, consolidate relations with our strategic partners – Japan and Australia – and to take forward our collaboration on important global issues,” he said in his departure statement.
Modi said that he will conclude his visit with an address at the 76th session UN General Assembly on Saturday, focusing on the pressing global challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to combat terrorism, climate change and other important issues.
At a media briefing in New Delhi, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Tuesday that the developments in Afghanistan will be extensively discussed in the bilateral talks between Modi and Biden and the Indian side will convey that Washington needs to continue to focus on that country.
Prime Minister Modi will also hold one-on-one meetings with five top executives from the US. These include Cristiano E Amon from Qualcomm, Shantanu Narayen from Adobe, Mark Widmar from First Solar, Vivek Lall from General Atomics and Stephen A Schwarzman from Blackstone.
All of Prime Minister Modi’s previous visits had his signature massive meetings with the Indian American community in particular the one at the Madison Square Garden in 2015, and thereafter in the Silicon Valley and the last one was Houston in 2019. However, because of COVID-19 restrictions, no large event for the prime minister is being planned.