G20 Summit : US President Joe Biden says he raised human rights, free press issue with PM Modi

NEW DELHI : US President Joe Biden on Sunday said that apart from “significant business” at the G20 Summit, recently held in New Delhi, he was also able to raise the issue of “importance of respecting human rights … the vital role [of] civil society and a free press” with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a bilateral meeting.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the recently concluded summit.

The President said this at a press conference in Hanoi, during the second leg of his tour to India and Vietnam.

In his opening remarks, he thanked PM Modi’s “leadership and his hospitality and hosting the G20”. Biden said he and PM Modi had “substantial discussions about how we’re going to continue to strengthen the partnership between India and the United States, building on the Prime Minister’s visit to the White House last June”.

Biden had hosted PM Modi during his state visit, with the customary state dinner, which was the first for the Indian Prime Minister.

“As I always do, I raised the importance of respecting human rights and the vital role that civil society and a free press have in building a strong and prosperous country with Mr Modi,” Biden said.

The President may have been trying to pre-empt an issue that has been regularly asked of him and his officials by the American press.

US officials have said they have not hesitated to raise these issues with their Indian counterparts — not in the manner of one country lecturing the other, but as a shared challenge.

The reference is to efforts by former President Donald Trump and his supporters to subvert the 2020 presidential election and the January 6 insurrection, for which he has been indicted in two separate cases.

About the G20 Summit, the American President said: “This was an important moment for the United States to demonstrate our global leadership and our commitment to solving the challenges that matter most to people around the world to invest in inclusive growth and sustainable development, addressing the climate crisis, strengthening food security and education, advancing global health and health security.”

“There was sufficient agreement in the room on the need for justice for just and lasting peace, that upholds the principles of the World Charter, and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Biden focussed on two of the major achievements of the G20 summit. The first was the launch of the rail-ship economic corridor that starts in India, cutts across West Asia (as the Middle East is called in India) and ends in Europe. It will “open up untold opportunities for transformative economic investment”.

“We’ve also discussed Russia’s brutal and illegal war in Ukraine,” he said, touching upon the other notable achievement of the summit, a joint declaration.

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