Prime Minister Modi described India and America as "natural partners" in his meeting with Vice President Harris on Thursday at the White House during which they decided to further cement the Indo-US strategic partnership and discussed global issues of common interest, including threats to democracy and in the Indo-Pacific.

One of Modi’s gifts to Harris, whose mother was from Tamil Nadu, is a copy of old notifications related to her late grandfather PV Gopalan in a wooden handicraft frame. Gopalan was a respected civil servant in India who had served in various parts of the country in the 1950s and 1960s.

Modi also gifted Harris a ‘gulabi meenakari’ chess set, the sources said, adding that the craft of ‘gulabi meenakari’ is closely associated with Varanasi, one of the oldest cities of the world and the prime minister’s Lok Sabha constituency.

Each piece on this particular chess set is remarkably handcrafted, the sources said.
The bright colours reflect the vibrancy of Varanasi, they said.

Besides meeting Harris, Prime Minister Modi held bilateral meetings with Suga and Morrison on Thursday.

Modi arrived in Washington on Wednesday on an official visit to the US during which he will hold the first face-to-face meeting with President Joe Biden, attend the maiden in-person Quad summit and address the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Modi calls Harris ‘source of inspiration’

During his talks with the California-born Harris who he called a “source of inspiration” for many people around the world, Modi said the bilateral relations between India and the US will scale new heights under the leadership of president Joe Biden and his deputy Harris.

Harris agreed with Modi over the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region at a time when Washington is aiming to solidify its pivot toward Asia and strengthen ties with allies to counter China’s growing influence in the region.

“The United States, like India, feels very strongly about the pride of being a member of the Indo Pacific, but also the fragility and importance…of those relationships, including maintaining a free and open Indo Pacific,” Harris told Modi during their meeting.

The two leaders also spoke on further cementing the Indo-US strategic partnership and discussed global issues including threats to democracy, Afghanistan, etc.

The meeting also marked a celebratory moment for the four-million strong Indian diaspora in the US and Indians back home who take pride in Harris’s Indian roots. Modi also termed Harris, the US’s first ever female vice president, a “real friend” for her support for India.

“The oldest democracy and the largest democracy…we are indeed natural partners, we have similar values,” Modi said.

Harris welcomes India’s resumption of Covid vaccine export

Harris also welcomed India’s decision to resume exports of the Covid-19 vaccine and said both countries must work closely to save democracies around the world. India, which is the world’s largest maker of the vaccine, recently said that it would resume exporting vaccines later this year after suspending it in April after a deadly second wave rattled its population.

“When India experienced the surge of COVID in the country, the United States was very proud to support India in its need and responsibility to vaccinate its people, and I welcome India’s announcement that it will soon be able to resume vaccine exports,” Harris said.

Harris, Modi speak on Pakistan’s role

The vice president also ‘suo moto’ referred to Pakistan’s role in terrorism during her meeting with Modi. She said terror groups were present in Pakistan and asked Islamabad to take action against them so that the security of India and the US is not threatened, news agency Press Trust of India reported, citing India’s ministry of external affairs.

“When the issue of terrorism came up, the vice president suo moto referred to Pakistan’s role in that regard (terrorism),” the agency quoted foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla as telling reporters after the Modi-Harris talks.

When asked if the issue of Pakistan’s role in terrorism came up during the Harris-Modi talks, Shringla confirmed the development and added that the US vice president also mentioned that terror groups were operational in Pakistan.

“She (Harris) asked Pakistan to take action so that this will not impact US security and that of India,” the foreign secretary was quoted as saying. “She agreed with the prime minister’s briefing on the fact of cross-border terrorism, and the fact that India has been a victim of terrorism for several decades now and on the need to rein in, and closely monitor Pakistan’s support for such terrorist groups.”