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Modi, Biden pledge to deepen India-US partnership

U.S. President Joe Biden (center) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (2nd right) arrive for the first session of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in New Delhi on September 9, 2023.

Evan Vucci | Afp | Getty Images

NEW DELHI — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden pledged to deepen the partnership between their countries in their second bilateral meeting in less than six months, as Delhi hosts a meeting between Group of 20 leaders major industrialized and developing countries.

The two leaders met briefly on Friday evening at Modi’s official residence after Biden’s arrival in Delhi, then issued a 29-point statement highlighting the depth and breadth of their relationship in an era of global alliances in evolution – from the construction of resilient strategic technological value chains to the links between the two countries. defense industrial ecosystems, collaboration in the areas of renewable and nuclear energy, climate financing and cancer research.

The two leaders “reaffirmed the importance of the Quad in supporting a free, open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific” and “expressed appreciation for the substantial progress being made to implement the groundbreaking achievements of the visit historic meeting of Prime Minister Modi in June 2023 in Washington.” The Quad is an informal security alignment bringing together Australia, India, Japan and the United States, born in response to the rise of China in the Indo-Pacific region.

This closed-door meeting with Biden was the third – after those with the leaders of Mauritius and Bangladesh – that Modi convened on the eve of the G20 leaders’ summit and was among a dozen bilateral meetings planned this weekend, highlighting India’s strategic ambitions. as a key global player linking the developed world and the Global South.

The summit is important for Modi, whose government has transformed the normally sedate rotating G20 presidency into a branding vehicle to raise India’s geopolitical importance ahead of national elections next year. Many governments, investors and businesses are also starting to look to India – as China slows – which the International Monetary Fund expects to be the fastest-growing economy this year.

Weekend consensus

This weekend’s agenda includes the expected admission of the African Union as an official member of the G20, as part of India’s efforts to uplift the Global South and foster inclusive growth and sustainable within the multilateral forum founded in 1999 as a platform to address the problems afflicting the countries of the South. the global economy.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping will not be present this weekend.

As Putin sends Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to replace him, Chinese Premier Li Qiang will take Xi’s place – the first time Xi has skipped the G20 meeting in the decade since he became president .

What is the G20 and what has it accomplished?

Putin has not traveled outside Russia since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him on war crimes charges in Ukraine.

The absence of the two men has raised fears that a communiqué binding member states will not be issued at the end of the G20 leaders’ summit, undermining India’s influence and diminishing its national message.

Indian diplomats have been unable to promote binding agreements in key areas of discussion since assuming the rotating presidency in December 2022 – because Russia and China objected to language referring to the war in Ukraine.

A war of words ensued ahead of this weekend’s meeting.

“The G7 countries (mainly the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France) are exerting pressure on India with the aim of ensuring that their unilateral approaches to the situation in Ukraine are reflected in the final documents of the G20 forums,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. in a report.

At a pre-summit press conference on Friday, Indian G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant said the final declaration “is almost ready.”

“I can assure you that our presidency has been inclusive, decisive and action-oriented,” Kant said.

Alternative to China

With Putin and Xi conspicuously absent this weekend, India and the United States hope this will be enough to convince member states and other Southern observers that they represent a more viable proposition ranging from food security to debt resolution.

In their joint statement following their bilateral meeting on Friday, Biden and Modi “reaffirmed their commitment to the G20.”

The challenge facing the region is “immense,” says the Asian Development Bank

They also “expressed confidence that the outcomes of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in New Delhi will advance the common goals of accelerating sustainable development, strengthening multilateral cooperation and building global consensus around inclusive economic policies to address our greatest common challenges, including fundamental overhaul and restructuring. develop multilateral development banks.

Although Putin had an obvious reason for his absence, Xi, however, did not state a reason – triggering speculation that the Chinese leader may be snubbing Modi for various reasons.

Although he recently visited South Africa for a BRICS meeting, Xi has rarely traveled abroad. Instead, he has tended to receive visiting dignitaries in Beijing, including Zambia and Venezuela, on overlapping visits this weekend.

Warming ties between India and the United States also stand in stark contrast to the standoff with its neighbor China.

India – along with Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan – sharply reprimanded China last week over its new national map that Beijing claims as its own of the disputed territories.

India also stands to gain from US companies seeking to diversify their supply chains – at China’s expense – as the US steps up efforts to limit strategic technology transfers to China for national security reasons.

This is likely what Modi and Biden envisioned as “their ambitious vision for an enduring India-US partnership that advances our people’s aspirations for a bright and prosperous future, serves the global good, and contributes to a free world, open, inclusive”. and a resilient Indo-Pacific.

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