WASHINGTON (AP) – Mystery solved.
President Joe Biden held talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday for important talks on the Indo-Pacific region. But first, the leaders caught up with the president’s family ties to the subcontinent.
Biden recalled that shortly after being first elected to the US Senate, he received a letter from a man in Mumbai who said his last name was Biden as well. The president said he never had a chance to follow through.
Later, as vice president, Biden was in India and recalled the local press asking him if he had Indian parents. He told the story of the letter. The next day, Biden said, he was informed by the Indian press that there were at least a few Bidens in India.
“And although we never admitted it… I found out that there was a Captain George Biden who was a captain of the East India Tea Company in India,” Biden said. It seemed to refer to the British East India Company, a trading power that for centuries controlled trade in colonized India and parts of Southeast Asia.
Biden, who speaks frequently of his Irish ancestry, joked that the British connection was “difficult for an Irishman to accept.”
Biden, who has previously recounted versions of the anecdote to an Indian audience, said Captain Biden “apparently stayed and married an Indian woman,” but was never able to elaborate.
He joked that Modi was in Washington “to help me figure it out.”
In fact, Modi told the president that he had “hunted down” documents that might shed light on the president’s ties to Mumbai, and brought his findings with him.
“Are we related? Biden asked.
The prime minister confirmed that the 46th US president does indeed have family ties with the subcontinent.
“Maybe we can move this matter forward, and maybe these documents could be of use to you,” Modi told Biden.