US President Joe Biden will host Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington, DC next month, the White House has announced, in a trip the Biden administration said aims to “affirm the deep and close partnership” between the two countries.
In a statement on Wednesday, the White House said Modi will make an official state visit to the United States capital on June 22, including a state dinner.
“The upcoming visit will affirm the deep and close partnership between the United States and India and the warm bonds of family and friendship that link Americans and Indians together,” the statement read.
The US and India have maintained close ties for decades, notably on defence and trade, and this will be the first state visit by Modi to the country.
But ties between the two nations have been tested in recent months over a range of issues, including concern over the Indian government’s human rights record and its relationship with Russia amid the war in Ukraine.
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Biden and Modi held a virtual meeting in April 2022 as Washington sought to push New Delhi to apply economic pressure on Moscow over the invasion of its neighbour.
The American president told the Indian prime minister at that time that the US could help India diversify its oil imports – but that it was not in the country’s interests to increase energy imports from Russia, a White House spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, earlier this month, an independent US commission recommended for the fourth year in a row that India be added to a religious freedom blacklist, saying that conditions in the country for religious minorities “continued to worsen” throughout 2022.
These US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) reports have drawn anger from Indian officials. Last year, India’s foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi accused senior US officials of making “ill-informed” and “biased” comments.
Nevertheless, Modi’s invitation to Washington, DC comes as both India and the US seek to shore up support against China’s growing assertiveness.
In its statement on Wednesday, the White House said the upcoming talks between Biden and Modi also will strengthen their respective countries’ “shared commitment to a free, open, prosperous, and secure Indo-Pacific”
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“The leaders will discuss ways to further expand our educational exchanges and people-to-people ties, as well as our work together to confront common challenges from climate change, to workforce development and health security,” the Biden administration said.
Modi visited Biden at the White House in 2021, but as part of a summit for the so-called “Quad” grouping – the US, Australia, Japan and India – that is seeking to counter China’s rising influence in the Pacific region.
The relationship between Washington and Beijing has seen growing tensions in the past few years as the US prioritised strategic competition with China in its foreign policy under former President Donald Trump, a position fully embraced by Biden.