Biden Hosts PM Modi At White House As He Seeks To Strengthen Ties

On Thursday morning, President Biden warmly welcomed India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the White House, aiming to strengthen ties with the world’s most populous nation amid increasing tensions with China and Russia. The formal reception included a grand display of friendship, with marching bands, honor guards, and a 21-gun salute on the South Lawn. Following the ceremonial welcome, the two leaders held an Oval Office meeting and attended a gala state dinner. Later, they joined reporters in the East Room and Prime Minister Modi addressed a joint session of Congress.

During the South Lawn gathering, President Biden expressed his belief that the relationship between the United States and India will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century. He emphasized the shared values of freedom and referred to the U.S. Constitution’s opening phrase, “We the People,” which encapsulates the importance of preserving freedom.

Prime Minister Modi expressed gratitude to President Biden for the honor of the state visit and highlighted the potential for both countries to address global challenges together. He acknowledged that the world order is evolving in the post-Covid era and emphasized the importance of India and America’s friendship in strengthening the global community.

The visit reflects President Biden’s efforts to forge alliances in response to the growing assertiveness of Russia and China. India, historically non-aligned during the Cold War, did not join the US-led coalition supporting Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. While India shares some concerns regarding China, it has not fully embraced Washington’s approach to dealing with the Asian giant. These dynamics contribute to the complex geopolitical landscape and the ongoing strategic considerations between the two nations.

India, now the world’s most populous country, holds significant importance for President Biden’s focus on the Global South. Recognizing India’s economic potential and geopolitical position, the administration aims to strengthen ties with the country. Prime Minister Modi, while not explicitly mentioning it, highlighted India’s growing power by referring to its population of 1.4 billion multiple times during his remarks at the arrival ceremony.

To deepen their partnership, the two leaders are set to announce various initiatives aimed at advancing cooperation in areas such as telecommunications, semiconductors, and artificial intelligence. Additionally, Prime Minister Modi plans to sign the Artemis Agreement, which governs the peaceful exploration of celestial bodies like the Moon and Mars. Furthermore, the leaders will announce a joint mission to the International Space Station in 2024, showcasing their commitment to space exploration and collaboration.


One of the significant agreements to be announced during the visit is a deal between General Electric and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, a state-owned company in India, to manufacture the F414 engine used in the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in India. This move is aimed at strengthening India’s manufacturing capabilities and potentially reducing its dependence on Russian arms suppliers. Additionally, India will proceed with the purchase of MQ-9B Predator drones from General Atomics, a deal worth $3 billion.

While military hardware sales could help India diversify its suppliers, officials did not indicate that Prime Minister Modi would align closer with the United States on the Ukraine conflict or adopt a more assertive stance against China in the Indo-Pacific region. However, Biden administration officials suggested that the meeting was part of an ongoing process, gradually influencing India’s engagement in these areas and encouraging diplomatic solutions when the time is right.

The visit and agreements reflect the evolving relationship between the United States and India, highlighting the importance of strategic partnerships and shared interests in various domains, including defense and security.


During the visit, it was apparent that President Biden took a somewhat softer approach in engaging with Prime Minister Modi, despite concerns about the state of democracy in India and the government’s actions to suppress dissent and opposition. President Biden did not directly mention the growing suppression of minority groups and opposition voices in India in his welcome speech, instead emphasizing the shared values and commitment to universal principles between the two countries.

While officials stated that human rights issues would be raised during their private meeting, President Biden used the term “respectful” multiple times to describe his approach towards Prime Minister Modi when briefing reporters before the visit. This suggests that the discussion on human rights may have been conducted in a more diplomatic manner.

The United States has historically valued democratic principles, including equality under the law, freedom of expression, religious pluralism, and respect for diversity. However, the balance between addressing human rights concerns and maintaining diplomatic relationships can sometimes be challenging for leaders.


The administration considered it a success that they were able to convince Prime Minister Modi to engage with reporters alongside President Biden, despite Mr. Modi’s reluctance to hold news conferences. The event was described as the leader “taking questions from the press” rather than a formal news conference, as stated in the White House public schedule.

However, there have been some concerns and dissenting voices within Congress regarding Prime Minister Modi’s visit. Several liberal Democrats have announced their plans to boycott Mr. Modi’s speech at a joint session, citing human rights issues. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez expressed her opinion on Twitter, stating that individuals facing serious human rights concerns should not be given such a prestigious invitation.

The scenes on the South Lawn during the visit highlighted the growing influence of Indian Americans in the United States. Thousands of people gathered to welcome Prime Minister Modi, chanting his name. President Biden acknowledged the significant presence of Indian Americans in key positions, including Vice President Kamala Harris, who is of Indian heritage.

Overall, the visit reflects the complexities and debates surrounding diplomatic engagements, human rights concerns, and the role of Indian Americans in the United States.


Vice President Kamala Harris’s connection to India was highlighted during the visit, as her mother immigrated to the United States from India. President Biden referenced their shared background and emphasized the story of “a family like ours in our country that tells a thousand stories of determination, courage, and hope.”

The state dinner, which is only the third of President Biden’s presidency, will take place on the South Lawn. The venue will be adorned with a pavilion draped in green and adorned with saffron-colored flowers, representing the colors of the Indian flag. Lotus blooms, which hold great significance in Indian culture, will be incorporated into the decorations. Additionally, images of the bald eagle and the peacock, the national birds of both countries, will serve as a backdrop when the leaders offer their traditional toasts.

These symbolic elements aim to honor the cultural ties between the United States and India and create a welcoming atmosphere for the state dinner.

The state dinner will feature a vegetarian menu, keeping in line with Prime Minister Modi’s dietary preferences, with the option of a fish entrĂ©e for those who prefer it. The meal will commence with a Marinated Millet and Grilled Corn Kernel Salad accompanied by Compressed Watermelon and Avocado Sauce. For the main course, guests will enjoy Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms and Creamy Saffron-Infused Risotto. Additionally, upon request, a sumac-roasted sea bass will be available. The delightful finale to the dinner will be a rose and cardamom filled strawberry shortcake.

The evening’s entertainment will be provided by renowned Grammy-winning violinist Joshua Bell, as well as Penn Masala, a talented South Asian a cappella group formed by University of Pennsylvania students. The US Marine Band Chamber Orchestra will also be showcasing their musical talents. This lineup of performers will add to the celebratory atmosphere of the state dinner.

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