Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Washington DC and New York during the last week of September, according to senior government sources. This will be his first visit to the United States since President Joe Biden took office earlier this year.
If the timeline unfolds according to ongoing discussions, the window of opportunity that is being explored is September 22-27, sources said.
This will be Modi’s first face-to-face meeting with Biden. The two have met virtually on at least three occasions – the Quad Summit in March, the Climate Change Summit in April, and the G-7 Summit in June this year.
Modi was supposed to travel to the UK for the G-7 summit where he could have met Biden, but had to cancel the trip due to the second wave of Covid-19 across India.
With the the situation in Afghanistan is changing rapidly, Modi’s visit is significant. In addition to meeting Biden, he is expected to have important meetings with the highest echelons of the US administration.
Modi last visited the United States in September 2019, when US President Donald Trump addressed the Howdy Modi event – the Prime Minister’s “abki baar Trump sarkar” line had not been welcomed by the Democratic Party establishment.
Two years later, it will be an effort to reach out to the Democratic establishment, which has made its voice heard over the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Strategically, the two sides will work on an ambitious Indo-Pacific agenda – the Chinese challenge being one of the shared concerns. In this context, a face-to-face Quad Leaders Summit is scheduled in Washington DC, around the same time as Modi’s visit.
But Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s decision on Friday to step down after a one-year term put the brakes on action. Sources said that while a face-to-face summit for all Quad leaders seems like a remote possibility, a “hybrid format” could be an option, where at least two leaders – Modi and Biden – join in person, while Australian Scott Morrison and Japan Suga virtually joined.
In an effort to shape the Prime Minister’s agenda, Foreign Minister Harsh Vardhan Shringla met with senior officials of the Biden administration in Washington DC, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Assistant Secretary Wendy Sherman , and had substantive discussions with them on strategic bilateral relations and regional and global issues such as the current situation in Afghanistan.
It was the first high-level discussion between officials of the two countries after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan on August 31.
Shringla, who arrived in the U.S. capital from New York on Wednesday, met with Blinken on Thursday at the State Department headquarters in Foggy Bottom. Shringla had a series of meetings throughout Thursday, most notably with his US counterpart Sherman.
Shringla and Sherman discussed a wide range of common priorities, including continued coordination on Afghanistan, strengthening Indo-Pacific cooperation through the Quad, addressing the climate crisis and pandemic, and preparations for upcoming dialogues, such as the 2 + 2 ministerial meeting, the US said. State Department spokesman Ned Price.
The two diplomats agreed to remain closely coordinated on common goals and priorities to deepen the US-India partnership, Price said in a report of the meeting.
Shringla also met with the Under Secretary of State for Civil Security, Democracy and Human Rights Uzra Zeya.