US relationship with India stronger than ever: White House

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A month after the historic Official State Visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United States, eminent American lawmakers and the White House on Wednesday said the India-US relationship has become stronger than ever.

Prime Minister Modi’s impressive address to the US Congress and the presence of more than 8,000 Indian Americans on the White House lawns on June 21 is being cherished by the lawmakers and officials, and not to miss the key deliverable of the bilateral ties reflected in the joint statement issued after the meeting between Modi and President Joe Biden.

“I like him (Modi),” Senator Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader, told PTI here. Schumer was once a critic of India and the prime minister till the time of his maiden trip to India early this year and his subsequent meetings with the PM.

He and several other lawmakers gathered at the White House lawns Wednesday afternoon for the annual Congressional picnic hosted for them by Biden.

“The visit (by the Prime Minister of India) last month was extremely successful and important. The relationship with India is stronger than ever and, as you know, we announced a range of key deliverables, some of them are being implemented,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at her daily news conference.

“We have remained very optimistic as it relates to our long-term future and relationship with India. And we believe that’s going to continue,” Jean-Pierre said.

Congressman Ro Khanna, the Co-Chair of India Caucus who had led the move for Modi to address a joint meeting of the US Congress, said strengthening defence, economy and technology were the key highlights of PM Modi’s trip.

“I am very bullish on the India-US relations, and this President has really helped take it to the next level,” he told.

Congressman Maxwell Alejandro Frost, who represents Orlando in the House and was one of the 70 lawmakers to write a letter to Biden on taking up the issue of human rights in India with Modi, was very bullish on India-US relationship.

“When Prime Minister Modi came, the streets were lined with people waiting to see him. Obviously, he’s one of the most popular leaders in the world. So, it was great to welcome him here,” Frost told.

Senator Ben Cardin, another signatory to the letter, said India is an important partner in the United States. “I thought Mr Modi did an excellent job in putting out the beneficial importance of that relationship for both India and the United States. I thought he did a really superb job, underscoring the importance of that relationship,” he told.

“We’ve had some candid discussions, some of our concerns, on some of the regional security issues as well as some of the human rights issues. They had a good conversation, but India’s an important partner of the United States,” Cardin said.

Congressman Brad Sherman said it was great to have Modi address the Congress for the second time. “I think our countries are getting closer and closer, cooperating more and more. I’ve always told business people to invest in India rather than China because of the democracy and the stability of the government,” Sherman told.

The US Congress, he said, needs to make it easier for India to buy the defence articles that it needs. “And some of it is just the atmospherics and recognizing how important India is,” he said.

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver underscored the India-US relationship. The prime minister “hit all of the bases, which is almost a requirement when he picked at a joint session of the Congress. And he did. I think (he did) smoothly. And nobody was offended when he left, which is remarkable. Not because he’s a speaker, but we have a composition of Congress right now that can sometimes be too judgmental,” he told.

At her daily news conference, White House Press Secretary Jean-Pierre while responding to another question on the I2U2 – the new grouping that includes the US, India, Israel and the UAE – said this is already deepening those partnerships among the four countries.

“Those four countries and beyond are evidenced by existing projects and initiatives. There is still a strong future with I2U2, and so we’re really excited about the prospects of that future and so just don’t have anything more to share beyond that,” she said.

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