Biden connection

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Odisha, Nov 09 (ANI): Sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik making a sculpture of newly elected US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, at Puri beach, in Puri on Monday. (ANI Photo)

Our Bureau 
New Delhi/Washington, DC  

In his first telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi since winning the US election, President-elect Joe Biden discusses issues ranging from the pandemic to Indo-Pacific region. How will be the Modi-Biden partnership in the coming years?  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday spoke to United States President-elect Joe Biden on the phone to congratulate him, reiterating the country’s firm commitment to the Indo-US strategic partnership and discussed shared priorities. “Spoke to US President-elect @JoeBiden on phone to congratulate him. We reiterated our firm commitment to the Indo-US strategic partnership and discussed our shared priorities and concerns–COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region,” PM Modi tweeted. The Prime Minister, in the following tweet, also conveyed warm congratulations to Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris.

“…Her success is a matter of great pride and inspiration for members of the vibrant Indian-American community, who are a tremendous source of strength for Indo-US relations,” he added.

Los Angeles (U.S.), March 11 (ANI): Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a primary night news conference at The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. on Tuesday. (REUTERS Photo)

After Biden’s electoral victory was announced, PM Modi had congratulated him and had said he looked forward to working closely with the US leader once again to take relations between two countries to greater heights. He had said that Biden’s contribution to strengthening Indo-US relations as Vice President “was critical and invaluable”.

The Prime Minister had expressed confidence that vibrant India-US ties will get stronger with the support and leadership of Kamala Harris. 

In an important development, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris extended wishes to people on the occasion of Diwali and said that hopefully next year the festival will be celebrated at the White House in person. “On behalf of our families, we wish a happy Diwali to Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, and everyone celebrating the festival of lights across the United States, India, and the world. Like so many cherished traditions during the pandemic, we know this year’s Diwali and its symbolizing of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and empathy over apathy arrives with a deeper meaning,” read the joint statement issued by Biden and Harris. As the world struggles to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, they said, “Our hearts go out to everyone who is ushering in this new year with the recent loss of a loved one, or who finds themselves fallen on hard times. Our prayers remain with everyone fighting the pandemic on the frontlines instead of staying safe at home in prayer with their families. And, we know the sadness of being apart on a day that truly signifies the blessing of family and friendship.”

“But Diwali is ultimately a reminder of the light that’s within us all to hope and dream, and to overcome our differences and keep the faith in each other. That’s the light we see shining on this day and that will guide us through the darkness with knowledge, science, truth, unity, and compassion,” they further said.

“And that’s why as Diwali is celebrated via video calls and while socially distanced this year, we look forward to celebrating Diwali at the White House next year — in person, together with you, and in a nation healed and united,” they added.

During the telephonic conversation, Modi warmly congratulated President-elect Biden on his election, describing “it as a testament to the strength and resilience of democratic traditions in the United States”, according to a statement by Prime Minister’s office. “The leaders agreed to work closely to further advance the India-U.S. Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership, built on shared values and common interests. The leaders also discussed their priorities, including containing the Covid-19 pandemic, promoting access to affordable vaccines, tackling climate change, and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region,” the statement read.

During the telephonic conversation, Prime Minister Modi warmly recalled his earlier interactions with Biden, including during his official visits to the United States in 2014 and in 2016. Biden had chaired the Joint Session of the U.S. Congress that was addressed by the Prime Minister during his 2016 visit. 

US President-elect Joe Biden looks forward to working closely with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on “shared global challenges”, including containing COVID-19 and maintaining a secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, Biden-Harris Presidential Transition team said on Tuesday.

The president-elect thanked the prime minister for his congratulations and expressed his desire to strengthen and expand the U.S.-India strategic partnership alongside the first vice president of South Asian descent Kamala Harris, according to a statement by his transition team.

Modi and Biden had a “very warm conversation” during which they exchanged views on the Indo-Pacific region and the role of healthcare, pharmaceuticals and particularly vaccines, said Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu on Tuesday. “PM Modi and president-elect Joe Biden had a very warm conversation. The PM congratulated him and the president-elect extended warm Diwali greeting to the PM and people of India. They exchanged views on global strategic partnership and Indo-Pacific area and discussed the problems that both US, India and the world are facing vis-a-vis COVID,” the envoy said.

“They discussed the role of healthcare, pharmaceuticals and particularly vaccines. They also discussed climate change and environment and in that the role of renewables and solar energy,” he added.

Prime Minister Modi warmly recalled his earlier interactions with Biden, including during his official visits to the United States in 2014 and in 2016. Biden had chaired the Joint Session of the U.S. Congress that was addressed by the Prime Minister during his 2016 visit

“In 2014, when PM Modi came for his first official visit to the US, it was the then VP Biden who hosted an official lunch for him. Again in 2016 during PM Modi’s address to the US Congress, it was VP Biden who presided over the joint session of US Congress. So, they very warmly recall those interactions,” Sandhu said.

Meanwhile, Biden-Harris Presidential Transition team said that Joe Biden looks forward to working closely with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on “shared global challenges”, including containing COVID-19 and maintaining a secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. 

Also, tech advocates in Washington are reportedly eager to work with the incoming Biden administration and reverse several of US President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, especially those that had created barriers for high skilled visa holders.

Some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley have clashed with the Trump administration in court, suing over his executive orders restricting immigration for foreign workers, and are now prioritizing the removal of the President’s actions in 2021, reported The Hill. The Trump administration had announced new immigration rules last month designed to make it more difficult for skilled workers to acquire visas. The rules tighten requirements for employers who hire workers on H-1B visas, which are set aside for skilled workers, particularly in the technology field.

TechNet, a group of industry executives from companies like Apple, Amazon, Google and more, had filed lawsuits challenging the new rules. If unsuccessful, they hope that the rules are rescinded by President-elect Joe Biden.

“They’ve indicated they are going to be very different than the Trump administration on high-skilled immigration, immigration in general….High-skilled immigration…has led to so much growth and technological superiority and competitiveness for the US,” said TechNet CEO Linda Moore.

However, before Biden assumes the presidential office, Silicon Valley is worried that Trump could clamp down ever harder on worker visas in the final days of his administration, according to The Hill.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows reportedly said on a recent call that the president is seeking to finalize a rule to make the standards stricter around H-1B visas, separate from rules announced last month.

The US Chamber of Commerce, which has also been active in the lawsuits against Trump’s visa orders, had recently noted that the Biden team has indicated they would reverse some of those policies.

Meanwhile, in an analysis for ANI, Tilak Devasher argued that the main focus of Pakistan as US President-elect Joe Biden gears up to take over in January 2021 does not appear to be a comprehensive reset of relations after the trauma of the President Donald Trump’s years but how to ensure that Indo-US relations do not continue to deepen. “For this, Pakistan will try and build on Biden’s regular visits to Pakistan since the 1990s, his old connections with and knowledge of Pakistan as also his experience as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and of Barack Obama’s White House. Biden, after all, was the original architect of the Kerry-Lugar bill and the policy of engagement with the civil government to support a sustainable long-term relationship with Pakistan,” he wrote. 

“The Biden presidency is also likely to see the return of the traditional and mainstream foreign policy establishment with area specialists providing crucial policy inputs, something absent under President Trump. They will be aware of Pakistan’s past duplicity of supporting the Taliban while pretending to be a US ally against terrorism. This will not bode well for Pakistan,” wrote Devasher, who is a Member of the National Security Advisory Board.

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