New Delhi: US Vice-President Kamala Harris Friday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that New Delhi and Washington DC need to “protect democracies”.
Addressing a joint media conference with Modi before their bilateral meeting, Vice-President Harris said, “As democracies around the world are under threat, it is imperative that we defend democratic principles and institutions within our respective countries and around the world and that we maintain what we must do to strengthen democracies at home.
“It is incumbent on our nations to, of course, protect democracies in the best interest of the people of our countries.”
She added, “And, Mr Prime Minister, I look forward to discussing how our nations can continue to best work together to strengthen our relationship around our mutual concerns, around the challenges we face, but the opportunities that those challenges also present.”
Modi, meanwhile, said India and the US are the world’s largest and oldest democracies, respectively, and “indeed natural partners”.
“We have similar values, similar geopolitical interests, and, also, our coordination and cooperation is continuously increasing,” Modi added, addressing the press conference hours before he was set to meet US President Joe Biden.
‘Indians’ commitment to democracy’
Harris, whose mother was Indian, also cited her personal experience and family to talk about “Indians’ commitment to democracy”.
“I know from personal experience, and from my family, of the commitment of the Indian people to democracy and to freedom and to the work that may be done and can be done to imagine and then actually achieve our vision for democratic principles and institutions,” she said.
Addressing the media on the Modi-Harris meeting, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla later said the US Vice-President “appreciated the fact that both of our countries represented large and successful democracies and that we needed to continue to work not only within our own countries, but with other countries, to promote the brand of democracy”.
Harris has been vocal about issues in India. In September 2019, she was critical of the situation in Kashmir after the revocation of Article 370 on 5 August that year. “It is about reminding people that they (the Kashmiris) are not alone. We are all watching,” she had said at an event in Houston, Texas.
(Edited by Rachel John)