VP Harris in her first meeting with PM Modi talks about defending democracies

TIP Special Correspondent

WASHINGTON, DC (TIP): Voicing concern over the threat to democracies around the world, Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday, September 23, underscored the need to defend democratic principles and institutions in both India and the US.

Harris made the remarks in a joint media appearance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi before their first in-person meeting at the White House during which they decided to further cement the Indo-US strategic partnership and discussed global issues of common interest, including the Indo-Pacific.

“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, and that we maintain what we must do to strengthen democracy at home and it is incumbent… to protect democracy in the best interest of the people of our country,” she said in her remarks as she welcomed Modi to her ceremonial office.

“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, we can begin to imagine, and then actually achieve our vision for democratic principles and institutions,” she said.

Harris said that she looks forward to discussing how the two countries can continue to best work together to strengthen their relationship around their mutual concerns and the challenges they face, but also the opportunities that those challenges present.

She had earlier spoken with Modi over phone on June 3.

India, she said, is a very vital partner to the United States.

“Throughout our history, our nations have worked together and stood together, to make our world a safer and stronger world.

“Mr. Prime Minister, when you and I last spoke, we talked about how our world is interconnected… and the challenges that we face today highlighted that fact… with COVID-19, the climate crisis and the importance of our shared belief in a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” Harris said.

She said that early in the COVID-19 pandemic, India was a vital source of vaccines for other countries.

“When India experienced a surge of COVID… the United States was very proud to support India and needed its and responsibility to vaccinate its people,” she said.

Harris welcomed India’s announcement that it will soon be able to resume vaccine export and it is of particular note and admiration that India is currently vaccinating approximately 10 million people a day.

“The President and I believe very strongly that the United States working together with India would have not only a profound impact on the future of our respective nations but on the world itself” on climate, she said.

“And as it relates to the Indo-Pacific, the United States, like India, feels very strongly about the pride of being a member of the Indo Pacific, but also the fragilities of the importance and the strength as well of those relationships, including maintaining a free and open Indo Pacific,” the Vice President said.

Harris also touched upon the issue of climate change.

“On the issue of the climate crisis, I know that India and we take this issue quite seriously. The President and she believe very strongly that the United States working together with India would have a profound impact on people of the two countries,” she added.

Their meeting comes a day ahead of the maiden bilateral meeting between Modi and President Joe Biden and the Quad Leaders’ Summit at the White House on Friday, September 24.

Since taking office, Harris has met with or spoken to over 30 world leaders, promoting US interests on issues ranging from global health to climate change to cyber threats.

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