US President Joe Biden stated on Sunday that he discussed a number of topics with Prime Minister Narendra Modi outside of the G20 Summit in Delhi, including respect for human rights, the function of civil society, and freedom of the press.
In Vietnam, where he is on an official visit after attending the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Delhi, Biden made the comments during a press conference.
“As I always do, I raised the importance of respecting human rights, the vital role of civil society, and a free press and building a strong and prosperous country with Mr Modi. We got a lot of important work done,” the US President said in Hanoi.
His comments kicked up a storm in India with the Congress launching an attack on PM Modi. Party leader Jairam Ramesh wrote on X, “Na press conference karunga, na karne doonga (won’t hold a press conference, won’t let you hold one) has had no impact.”
“Mr Biden is saying the same things in Vietnam which he said to Mr Modi’s face in India — on respecting human rights, the role of civil society and the free press,” he said.
Ramesh had earlier claimed that following the bilateral meeting in Delhi, Biden’s staff was forbidden from speaking with the media and answering inquiries regarding his meeting with PM Modi.
“President Biden’s team says despite multiple requests, India has not allowed media to ask questions of him and PM Modi after their bilateral meeting,” the Congress leader tweeted on Friday.
“President Biden will now take questions in Vietnam on September 11 from the media accompanying him. Not surprising at all. This is how democracy is done Modi-style,” he said.
While in Hanoi, Biden acknowledged having “substantial discussions” about how to improve US-India relations with PM Modi and commended him for his leadership in organising the G20 Summit in Delhi.
During his first trip to India as US President, Biden arrived in Delhi and met with PM Modi to discuss a variety of topics. They welcomed progress in India’s acquisition of 31 drones and the cooperative development of jet engines and pledged to “deepen and diversify” the bilateral major defence collaboration.
“I want to once again thank PM Modi for his leadership and his hospitality and hosting the G20. He and I have had substantial discussions about how we’re going to continue to strengthen the partnership between India and the US building on the Prime Minister’s visit to the White House last June,” Biden said at the press conference.
The US President also discussed the “significant business” he completed while attending the G20 Summit in India.
“This was an important moment for the US to demonstrate our global leadership and our commitment to solving the challenges that matter most to people around the world. Investing in inclusive growth and sustainable development, addressing the climate crisis, strengthening food security and education, advancing global health and health security,” Biden said.
“We showed the world the US is a partner with a positive vision for our shared future,” he added.