New Delhi, September 24
As democracies around the world are under threat, “it is imperative that we defend democratic principles and institutions within our respective countries,” US Vice President Kamala Harris has told Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their 15-minute meeting at the White House on Thursday.
“And that we maintain what we must do to strengthen democracies at home and it is incumbent on our nations to of course protect democracies in the best interests of people of our countries,” she said in her remarks as she welcomed Modi to her ceremonial office.
Both leaders had warm words on cooperation during the pandemic. Modi thanked Harris for offering a “sense of kinship” in a phone call during India’s deadly second wave in April-May. Harris reciprocated by calling India a vital source of vaccines for other countries early in the pandemic and welcomed India’s announcement to soon resume vaccine exports.
Harris, whose mother was born in India, is the first US Vice President of Indian descent. She is also the first woman and first black person to hold the office.
Modi invited Harris to visit India, telling her that Indians “are waiting to welcome you” and calling her “the source of inspiration for so many people across the world”.
“I am completely confident that under President Biden and your leadership, our bilateral relationship will reach new heights,” he said.
Later, when asked about Harris’ comments on democracy, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told the media that the Vice President appreciated the fact that both the countries represented large and successful democracies and that “we needed to continue to work not only within our own countries, but with other countries, to promote the brand of democracy.”
“In the discussions, I think she did mention that the US Congress was highly appreciative and kept noting the fact that India and the US represented the two largest democracies. There was a great deal of appreciation of how both our democracies function. And that was I would say discussion that took place in the actual meeting, which, in which the media were not present,” Shringla told the media in response to a question.
Quad spy chiefs in town
Call it a coincidence but national security or spy chiefs of all four nations are in the US on the eve of the Summit of their leaders at the White House. The presence of DG of Australia’s Office of National Intelligence Andrew Shearer, India’s NSA Ajit Doval, CIA chief Bill Burns and Japanese Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office chief Hiroaki Takizawa suggests that the primacy of the Quad as a security grouping will remain though US officials have sought to give it an economic orientation during their briefings.