Both the leaders discussed their shared priorities and concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

PM Modi shaking hands with Joe Biden dressed in a blue suitImage Credit: PTI
news India-US Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 09:17

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to US President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday, with both leaders reiterating their firm commitment to the strategic partnership between the two countries.

This was the first interaction between the two leaders after Democrat Biden defeated incumbent president Donald Trump in the US presidential election.

"Spoke to US President-elect @JoeBiden on phone to congratulate him. We reiterated our firm commitment to the Indo-US strategic partnership and discussed our shared priorities and concerns - Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region," PM Modi said in a tweet.

The prime minister also congratulated US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

"Her success is a matter of great pride and inspiration for members of the vibrant Indian-American community, who are a tremendous source of strength for Indo-US relations," he said.

Joe Biden, who will take over as United States President in January, has told PM Narendra Modi that alongside Kamala Harris he wants to strengthen and expand relations between their countries.

Working closely on the Covid-19 pandemic figured in their phone call on Tuesday, Biden's transition organisation's readout of the conversation said.

"The President-elect thanked the Prime Minister for his congratulations and expressed his desire to strengthen and expand the US-India strategic partnership alongside the first Vice President of South Asian descent" Kamala Harris, according to the readout.

"The President-elect noted that he looks forward to working closely with the Prime Minister on shared global challenges, including containing Covid-19 and defending against future health crises, tackling the threat of climate change, launching the global economic recovery, strengthening democracy at home and abroad, and maintaining a secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region," it added.

Absent from the readout is any mention of cooperation in counter-terrorism.

The readout mentions maintaining a secure Indo-Pacific, which was the centrepiece of President Donald Trump's administration's strategic involvement with India.

Biden, who started speaking to international leaders starting on November 10, finally got around to speaking with Modi.

Also on Tuesday, Biden spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israeli, one of the closest allies of the US. Netanyahu has been considered close to President Donald Trump like Modi.

Modi was among the first leaders to recognise Biden as the winner of the presidential election that is still being questioned by Trump and votes are being counted.

He and Indian President Ram Nath Kovind tweeted their congratulations to Biden shortly after the US media declared him the winner based on their projections of the results.

Modi recalled in his congratulatory tweet that Biden's contribution as the vice president "to strengthening Indo-US relations was critical and invaluable."

He added, "I look forward to working closely together once again to take India-US relations to greater heights."

Biden has met Modi during his visit to Washington in 2014 and co-hosted along with then-Secretary of State John Kerry a luncheon in his honour.

(With PTI and IANS inputs)

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