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Did Modi & Biden ‘review ties’ at Bali, or was it just a ‘brief meeting’? MEA, White House differ

A week after MEA said that Modi & Biden reviewed ‘bilateral ties’ on sidelines of G-20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, White House press secretary said the two met only 'very briefly'.

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New Delhi: A statement from the White House on a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit appears to be different from the one issued earlier by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked Monday about the importance of the India-US relationship in the context of the stalled nomination of Biden’s pick for US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti.

“India is a very important relationship that we have. You… you saw the President greet and meet very briefly with Prime Minister Modi just last week when he was in… in Bali,” Jean-Pierre told reporters.

The G-20 Summit was held in Bali, Indonesia, on 15 and 16 November. 

Her comment comes a week after the MEA issued a detailed statement describing the meeting on the G-20 Summit margins between Modi and Biden on 15 November as one that “reviewed” bilateral ties, among other things. 

“They reviewed the continuing deepening of the India-US strategic partnership, including cooperation in future-oriented sectors like critical and emerging technologies, advanced computing, artificial intelligence, etc. They expressed satisfaction about the close cooperation between India and US in new groupings such as the Quad, I2U2, etc,” read the statement.

It added that the two leaders also discussed various global and regional developments, and that Modi thanked Biden for his “constant support” in strengthening India-US relations.

“[Modi] expressed confidence that both countries would continue to maintain close coordination during India’s G-20 Presidency,” the statement said.

Also Read: G20 fault lines making it hard to walk its talk. India’s presidency a chance to plug gaps

White House, MEA on Biden-Modi-Widodo meet

The White House has not published any statements about a meeting involving only Biden and Modi at the summit, but released a statement on the US President’s meeting with the Indian Prime Minister and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

On 15 November, the White House said that the three leaders discussed the necessity of the G-20 to “demonstrate its collective capacity to bring together major economies” to advance sustainable and inclusive growth and tackle the ongoing climate, energy, and food crises, among other things.

The statement from Washington also said Biden congratulated Indonesia’s efforts as G-20 President, adding that certain initiatives of the country have helped lay the foundation to take forward health-finance collaborations for India’s G-20 presidency.

“He [Biden] looks forward to continuing to support the G20’s work under India’s Presidency,” the statement added.

The MEA’s statement of the trilateral meeting, however, offered details of what Prime Minister Modi said. 

“PM Modi affirmed that India would give voice to other developing countries during its Presidency,” read the MEA statement.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: G20 leaders condemn Russian aggression on Ukraine in ‘strongest terms’, demand its withdrawal


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