Vice President’s Ceremonial Office
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
3:19 P.M. EDT
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Mr. Prime Minister, it is my honor to welcome you to the White House and to Washington, D.C. It is my understanding that this is your first trip outside of South Asia for at least the last 16 months. On behalf of the President and myself, we are honored to welcome you for this visit.
India, of course, is a very important partner to the United States. Throughout our history, our nations have worked together, have stood together to make our world a safer and stronger world.
Mr. Prime Minister, when you and I last spoke in June, we talked about how our world is more interconnected and interdependent than ever before. And the challenges that we face today have highlighted that fact — be it COVID-19, the climate crisis, and the importance of our shared belief in a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
On COVID-19, our nations have worked together. Early in the pandemic, India was a vital source of vaccines for other countries. When India experienced a surge of COVID in the country, the United States was very proud to support India in its need and responsibility to vaccinate its people.
And I welcome India’s announcement that it will soon be able to resume vaccine exports. It is of particular note and admiration that India, I’m told, is currently vaccinating approximately 10 million people a day, as of today.
On the issue of the climate crisis, I know that India and you take this issue quite seriously. The President and I believe very strongly that the United States working together with India can have not only a profound impact on the people of our respective nations, but on the world itself.
And as it relates to the Indo-Pacific, the United States, like India, feels very strongly about the pride of being a member of the Indo-Pacific, but also the fragility and the importance and strength as well of those relationships, including maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Finally, 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. And it is incumbent on our nations to, of course, protect democracies in the best interest of the people of our countries.
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.
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.
PRIME MINISTER MODI: (As interpreted.) Excellency, first of all, I’d like to express my gratitude for the warm welcome back you have extended to me and to my delegation.
Excellency, some months ago, we had an opportunity to talk to each other on the phone. We had a detailed discussion at that time. And the way you spoke to me so warmly and so naturally, I will always remember that. Thank you so much.
It was, Excellency, if you remember, a very difficult time. India was confronted with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic — a very difficult time for us. But so — like a family, the sense of kinship and so warmly you extended a helping hand, the words that you chose when you spoke to me — I will always remember that, and I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Like a true friend, Excellency, you had given a message of cooperation and very full of sensitivity. And immediately after that, we found that the U.S. government, the U.S. corporate sector, and the Indian community all came together to help India.
Excellency, President Biden and yourself, you took up the leadership of the United States in a very challenging atmosphere and challenging times, but within a very short period of time, you have had many achievements to your credit, whether that be COVID, climate, or the Quad. On all these issues, the United States has taken very important initiatives.
Excellency, amongst the largest democracy and the oldest democracy, between India and the United States, we are indeed natural partners. We have similar values, similar geopolitical interests, and, also, our coordination and cooperation is continuously increasing.
To strengthen the supply chains, Excellency, and as far as the new and emerging technologies are concerned, and space, these are areas of special interest for you. These are areas which are of interest to me too and a special priority. And these — and these are areas where our cooperation is very important.
Excellency, between India and the U.S., there are very vibrant and strong people-to-people connections that we have. You know that all too well. More than 4 million people of Indian origin, the Indian community is a bridge between our two countries — a bridge of friendship. And their contribution to the economies and societies of both our countries is indeed very praiseworthy.
Excellency, your being elected as the Vice President of the United States of America itself has been such an important and historic event. You are the source of inspiration for so many people across the world.
I am completely confident that under President Biden and your leadership, our bilateral relationship will touch new heights.
Excellency, continuing on your — this journey of victory, Indians also would want you to continue that in India and, therefore, they’re waiting to welcome you. And therefore, I extend to you specially an invitation to visit India.
Once again, Excellency, let me thank you and express my gratitude for this very warm welcome.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER MODI: Thank you.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: And welcome to you. Thank you.
3:34 P.M. EDT