Washington | Describing India as one of its most consequential partners, the Biden administration has said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's state visit to the US next month is an opportunity to enhance partnership on several vital priorities, including ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific, and strengthen trade and security partnership.
Prime Minister Modi will embark on his first state visit to the US next month on an invitation by President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden. The US President and the First Lady will also host Modi at a state dinner on June 22.
"Our partnership with India is one of our most consequential relationships and we work closely with India on a number of vital priorities," state department's Deputy Press Secretary Vedant Patel told reporters at his daily news conference on Monday.
The state visit is an opportunity to deepen some of these partnerships, whether it be ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific and ensuring that it is a region that is more connected, more prosperous, more secure and more resilient, Patel told reporters at his daily news conference.
Patel's reference to the Indo-Pacific came amidst China's aggressive behaviour in the region where it is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims.
Beijing has also built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region. Both areas are stated to be rich in minerals, oil and other natural resources and are also vital to global trade.
The US, Japan, India and Australia had in 2017 given shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the “Quad” or the Quadrilateral coalition to counter China's aggressive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific region.
"Obviously, between India and the United States, there exists an opportunity to deepen trade issues, deepen security partnerships. There is an opportunity to address some shared global challenges like global health and addressing the climate crisis. So again, I am not going to get ahead of the state visit, but we very much look forward to hosting the Indian government," Patel said in response to a question.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken, he said, is the country's and the president's chief diplomat and one of his most trusted and longest-serving foreign policy advisors.
"We of course are in constant communication with our partners at the White House on things like state visits and visits by foreign dignitaries and things of that sort," Patel said.
"But I am not going to get into the specific deliberations beyond that. And like I said, our partnership with India is one of the most consequential and it is why we are very much looking forward to hosting them in a state visit next month," he added.
"Our partnership with India is one of our most consequential and of course, deepening our trade relationship is a key priority and has been one as it relates to our partnership with India. Of course, another key component of this is our deep cultural exchanges and people-to-people ties as we are both democracies," Patel said in response to another question.
"We are eager to welcome Indian students interested in studying here through the appropriate visa systems and otherwise," he said.