Dismissing concerns over the health of democracy in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the White House on Monday said India is a vibrant democracy and anybody who happens to go to New Delhi can see that for themselves. John Kirby, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House, also stressed that the US administration never shies away from “expressing concerns that we might have with anyone around the world.”
“You can do that with friends; you’re supposed to do that with friends,” the White House official said.
Prime Minister Modi will be on a state visit to the US later this month. US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will host Prime Minister Modi for the official state visit, which will include a state dinner, on June 22, 2023.
When asked about the reason behind the invitation for the state dinner, Kirby underlined that India is a strong partner with the United States on many levels.
“You saw that in Shangri-La Secretary (of Defense, Lloyd) Austin announced some additional defense cooperation now that we’re going to pursue with India. Of course, there’s an awful lot of economic trade between our two countries. India is a member of the Pacific Quad and a key friend and partner with respect to Indo-Pacific security,” he said.
“I could go on and on and on. There are innumerable reasons why India certainly matters, not just bilaterally between the two of our nations, but multilaterally on very many levels. And the president is looking forward very much to having Prime Minister Modi here to talk about all those issues and to advance and deepen that partnership and that friendship,” Kirby added.
When the reporter pressed if the Biden administration is “at all concerned about the health of democracy in India,” Kirby replied: “India is a vibrant democracy. Anybody that, you know, happens to go to New Delhi can see that for themselves. And certainly, I would expect that the strength and health of democratic institutions will be part of the discussion.”
“And, look, we never shy away — and you can do that with friends; you’re supposed to do that with friends — you never shy away from expressing concerns that we might have with anyone around the world. But this visit is really about advancing what is now and what we hope will be a deeper, stronger partnership and friendship going forward.”