Biden highlights human rights, free press in talks with Modi during G20 summit
During the G20 summit held in the Indian capital, President Joe Biden of the United States engaged in bilateral discussions with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing crucial topics including human rights and the role of a free press in building a strong nation.
President Biden’s visit to India was marked by significant diplomatic interactions, including his meeting with Prime Minister Modi and his subsequent departure for Vietnam. In a press conference held in Hanoi, Biden discussed the importance of raising human rights concerns on the international stage.
The G20 summit’s conclusion featured a joint declaration touching upon the contentious matter of the Ukraine conflict, which garnered unanimous support. World leaders commended Modi, the G20 president, for skillfully navigating consensus on the agreement.
President Biden underscored the importance of strengthening the India-US relationship during his discussions with Modi. He emphasized the significance of respecting human rights and the pivotal role played by civil society and a free press in fostering prosperity within a nation.
Critics have pointed to rising attacks on minorities, particularly Muslims, since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014 under Modi’s leadership. However, the Indian government has denied these allegations. According to the World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in May, India’s ranking dropped 11 places from the previous year to 161.
Rights activists and campaigners have consistently called upon Western leaders, including Biden, to address these issues with Modi. Nevertheless, experts acknowledge the delicate balance the US must strike, given India’s strategic importance in countering China’s ascent.
In May, Modi enjoyed a state visit to the United States, where the red carpet was rolled out for him. Prior to the visit, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan emphasized that while the US would express its concerns regarding freedom, it would do so without adopting a lecturing or superior tone.
During his time in Hanoi, President Biden also praised the India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor deal, announced during the summit, as a groundbreaking partnership. This corridor aims to connect Middle Eastern countries via rail and link them to India through ports, positioning it as a counter to China’s Belt and Road project.
President Biden’s visit to India for the G20 summit included bilateral discussions and a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Modi at his official residence. Notably, Modi has not held a solo press conference since becoming prime minister, and journalists were not invited to pose questions to the leaders following their talks and dinner.
The official statement released by India after the meeting highlighted cooperative efforts on various issues but did not reference a discussion about human rights.