On Thursday, Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris invoked her familial ties to India as she mildly pressed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on human rights during a meeting, reported Los Angeles Times.
During public remarks at her ceremonial office before the closed-door session, she told Modi that “as democracies around the world are under threat it is imperative that we defend democratic principles and institutions within our respective countries”.
The remarks marked a subtle change from the Trump administration’s unquestioned fidelity to the populist Modi, who has presided over an increase in religious polarization in his country, with more laws targeting religious minorities, including its large Muslim population, as well as attacks on non-Hindus, reported Los Angeles Times.
As Democracies around the world are under threat. it is imperative that we defend democratic principles & institutions within our respective countries & around the world. pic.twitter.com/BrgIpgXQsM
— Aadesh Rawal (@AadeshRawal) September 24, 2021
Despite the mild pressure, the two leaders shared warm words, including praise from Harris for India’s role in producing COVID-19 vaccines for the world. Later, Modi thanked Harris for offering a sense of kinship in a phone call during his country’s deadly coronavirus surge this year.
He has invited Harris to visit India, telling her that “Indians are waiting to welcome you and calling her”.
However, Harris, who has visited Southeast Asia last month, did not immediately commit to a trip.
The public discussion of about 15 minutes attracted more attention, including a large press contingent from India than typical meetings between heads of state and vice president, reported Los Angeles Times.
Modi did not speak publicly about his desire to increase U.S. work visas for Indians, but it is part of his agenda. Harris and Modi also talked about their goals to combat COVID-19 and climate change and to strengthen the strategic alliance.
India has become a closer ally in recent years as American presidents from both parties have recognized the country’s strategic importance in countering China’s growing military and financial power.
Modi is scheduled to meet with President Biden on Friday and then separately again with Harris and Biden in meetings of the Quad Summit, which also includes Japan and Australia.