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Business News/ News / World/  Focus on China dominated Biden-Modi meeting in Oval office, reveals official
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Focus on China dominated Biden-Modi meeting in Oval office, reveals official

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden discussed China and its leader Xi Jinping during their recent meeting at the Oval Office. China was a major topic of discussion, with both leaders sharing their experiences and expressing concerns about their relationship with Xi.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden are reflected in a White House East Room mirror as Prime Minister Modi addresses their joint press conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein (REUTERS)Premium
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden are reflected in a White House East Room mirror as Prime Minister Modi addresses their joint press conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein (REUTERS)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden during their meeting at the Oval Office last month spent a “plurality" of their time having discussions on China and its leader Xi Jinping, according to a senior administration official familiar with the discussion.

As reported by PTI citing a senior administration official on conditions of anonymity, “In the Oval Office meeting between Modi and Biden, a plurality of that time was just spent talking about China... and the experiences they've had with Xi, both knowing him for a long time trying really hard to have a relationship with him, and just both essentially giving up on."

The official revealed that China was a major issue of discussion in the meeting.

“In reality… it (China) is not the glue of our relationship at all, but it's one of the factors and I think we're gonna have that glue for a long time to come," said the official familiar with the discussions between the two leaders last month.

Also Read: India, US friendship among most consequential in world: Biden

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's state visit to the US between June 21 and June 23, he had three consecutive days of meetings with President Biden. On June 22, the two leaders had an extensive interaction, spending over eight hours together, which included a morning welcome at the White House and a State Dinner in the evening, PTI reported.

Both India and the United States believe that China poses a major national security threat to them, the official said, noting that the Biden administration thinks New Delhi has been ahead of Washington in terms of handling Beijing.

The official further noted that the Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya had a meeting with the Dalai Lama a couple of weeks ago in New Delhi and “the Chinese kind of went nuts about that".

Also Read: ‘Be careful’: Joe Biden warns China's Xi Jinping after Putin meeting

“They (Indians are) in some ways were ahead of us. It is much more existential for them in terms of countering the China threat. Whether it's banning TikTok, whether it was building up mobile networks with no Chinese equipment, they've actually shown a way forward of what de-risking looks like. And that's why I think they're so critical," said the official.

“At the same time, they still depend on a lot of Chinese things, just like we do. China has been a real irritant in G-20 for them. Russia too…," the official noted, giving an insight into the G-20 discussions and the balancing act that India is doing to bring all stakeholders together, PTI reported.

The official emphasized that the current relationship between India and the United States is the strongest it has ever been, noting that after Prime Minister Modi's visit, the depth of the ties has reached unprecedented levels during the president's tenure.

Also Read: Two great friends: India, US to shape global order

The official further noted that America is as popular as Modi is in India. It's a place where there's an immense reservoir of goodwill towards Americans, towards America and a desire to get even closer. “That's not just reflected at the very top which is where we usually write about or hear about. It's, I think, underneath that at the government-to-government level business-to-business level. And then people to people," the official said.

“Vice Versa, if the bridge from India to America is a steel reinforced four-lane highway, a strong, stable bridge; I would describe in years past the bridge from America to India has been like a rope bridge with every other plank missing. Like we don't know India and Indians anywhere near the level that India and Indians know America and Americans. I think that's beginning to change," said the official referring to a large number of high-level visits to India.

There's hardly a week or two that goes by without a major US government representative being in the country. And then on the business side, it’s like a steady stream of CEOs. “Some have better strategies than others, but everybody's like rushing India," said the official.

“It’s one of those moments where, if you rewind the clock, China 15 years ago was raising people at this pace out of poverty into the middle class. India is actually doing it a little faster than China was 15 or 20 years ago. You just look at the metrics, whether it's the number one source of student visas now, India surpassed China last year, whether it's the investment, which is a record level, and we’re the number one trading partner for India for the first time. And another number of other metrics," the official said.

“This is the most significant country in many ways for them and becoming one of the most. The president said one of the most consequential relationships we have. Privately he's expressed … that this is the most important relationship that we have, at least in terms of growth and, and the future," said the official.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Published: 24 Jul 2023, 09:37 AM IST
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