Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi met US Vice President Kamala Harris in their first in-person meeting here on Thursday, during which they talked about various issues that would further cement the India-US friendship, which is based on shared values and cultural linkages.
In a tweet, after their meeting that lasted over an hour, Prime Minister Modi said: “Glad to have met @VP @KamalaHarris”.
“Her feat has inspired the entire world. We talked about multiple subjects that will further cement the India-USA friendship, which is based on shared values and cultural linkages.”
In an address to the media ahead of their bilateral engagement, Prime Minister Modi thanked the US for the assistance extended during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also extended her an invitation to visit India.
Modi said that both India and the US are the largest and oldest democracies with shared values and their cooperation is also gradually increasing.
He said that both US President Joe Biden and Kamala Harris assumed office at a time when the planet was facing very tough challenges.
“In a short time you have had many achievements to your credit, be it the COVID-19, climate change or the Quad.”
He said the vibrant and strong people to people connections between India and the US is a bridge between our two countries, their contributions are praiseworthy.
He also thanked the US for its help during India’s second wave of the COVID pandemic. “During India’s second wave when we were suffering, you helped us, with kind words and extended a helping hand, and I say a heartfelt thank you,” he said.
“You’re being elected the Vice President of the US itself has been such an important and historic event. You are the source of inspiration for so many people across the world. I am completely confident that under President Biden and your leadership our bilateral relationship will touch new heights.”
Inviting her to India, he said: “Continuing on your journey of victory, Indians would also want you to continue that in India and therefore they are waiting to welcome you and I extend to you especially an invitation to visit India.”
Harris, in her comments, said: “India is of course a very important partner. Our nations have worked together, have stood together, to make our world a safer and stronger world.”
“Mr Prime Minister when you and I last spoke together we talked about how our world is interconnected and interdependent than ever before, and the challenges that we face today have highlighted that fact, be in COVID-19, the climate crisis, and the importance of our shared belief in a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”
She welcomed India’s announcement that it will soon resume COVID-19 vaccine exports.
She discussed the COVID pandemic and said “our nations have worked together. Early in the pandemic, India was a vital source of vaccines for other countries”.
“When India experienced the surge of COVID in the country, the US was proud to support India in its need and its responsibility to vaccinate its people,” she said.
Touching on democracy, she said: “As democracies around the world are under threat, it is imperative that we defend democratic principles and institutions within our respective countries and around the world.
“I know from personal experience and from my family of the commitment of the Indian people to democracy, and the work that needs to be done..”
The two leaders later had a tete-a-tete on the balcony, without aides, ahead of their bilateral engagement.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted pictures of the two leaders speaking together ahead of the formal talks.
“Tête-à-tête between PM @narendramodi and @VP Kamala Harris before commencing delegation-level talks. This is their first in-person meeting.”
An MEA statement said that both leaders expressed happiness at their first in-person meeting. They warmly recalled their telephone conversation earlier in June 2021. They exchanged views on recent global developments, including in Afghanistan and reaffirmed their commitment towards a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.
The two leaders discussed the COVID-19 situation in their respective countries, including ongoing efforts to contain the pandemic through expedited vaccination efforts, and ensuring supply of critical medicines, therapeutics and healthcare equipment.
Both sides acknowledged the importance of collaborative action on climate change. Prime Minister Modi spoke about India’s push for increasing renewable energy and the recently launched National Hydrogen Mission. He also emphasized the importance of lifestyle changes to promote environmental sustainability.
They also discussed areas of future collaboration, including space cooperation, Information Technology, especially emerging and critical technologies, as well as the cooperation in the healthcare sector.
Both leaders acknowledged the vibrant people-to-people linkages as the bedrock of the mutually beneficial education linkages and the flow of knowledge, innovation and talent between our two countries.
Prime Minister Modi invited Vice-President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff to visit India soon, it said.