Biden Addresses Human Rights and Free Press During Talks with Modi


In a recent press conference held in Hanoi, U.S. President Joe Biden shared key insights into his discussions with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Delhi for the G20 summit. President Biden emphasized the significance of human rights and a free press while engaging in bilateral talks with Prime Minister Modi.

President Biden’s visit to India was part of his diplomatic tour, which also included a stop in Vietnam. While the G20 summit concluded with a unanimous joint declaration that touched upon the contentious issue of the Ukraine conflict, leaders from various nations praised Prime Minister Modi for his role in achieving a consensus on the agreement.

During the press conference, President Biden expressed his satisfaction with the substantial discussions he had with Prime Minister Modi regarding the ongoing strengthening of the India-U.S. relationship. He highlighted his consistent approach of raising the important topics of human rights and the indispensable role that civil society and a free press play in building a robust and prosperous nation.

Critics have pointed out concerns about rising attacks on minorities, particularly Muslims, since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Modi, came to power in 2014. The Indian government has consistently denied these allegations. The latest World Press Freedom Index, released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in May, showed India’s ranking dropping 11 places from the previous year to 161.

Human rights activists and campaigners have frequently called on Western leaders, including President Biden, to address these issues with Prime Minister Modi. However, experts note that the U.S. must approach this delicate matter cautiously, considering India’s critical role as an ally in efforts to counter China’s influence.

In May, India was accorded a warm welcome during Prime Minister Modi’s state visit to the United States. Ahead of the visit, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the U.S. would express its concerns when it observes challenges to freedoms but would do so in a manner that avoids a lecturing or confrontational approach, acknowledging that no country is without its own challenges.

In Hanoi, President Biden also discussed the groundbreaking India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor deal, which was announced during the G20 summit. This corridor seeks to connect Middle Eastern countries via rail and link them to India through ports. Analysts view it as a countermeasure to China’s Belt and Road project.

President Biden’s visit to India commenced with bilateral talks with Prime Minister Modi, followed by a dinner at the official residence of the Indian Prime Minister. Notably, Prime Minister Modi has not held a solo press conference since taking office, and journalists were not invited to pose questions to the leaders after their discussions or the dinner.

The official statement released by India after the meeting focused on the commitment of both leaders to cooperation on various issues but did not mention any specific conversation regarding human rights.

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