Modi calls on Biden to advance strategic ties

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By Sanjeev Miglani

NEW DELHI, November 18 (Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke by phone with US President-elect Joe Biden to congratulate him on his electoral victory, which he said showed the strength of American democracy, and he promised to deepen strategic ties.

Modi first sent his congratulations to Biden in a social media post shortly after U.S. TV channels cast him as the winner of the Nov. 3 election, even though President Donald Trump refused to concede his defeat.

Modi followed this up with a phone call to congratulate Biden and reaffirm his commitment to a strategic partnership between the two great democracies, Modi said on Twitter Tuesday evening.

“Prime Minister 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,” India’s Foreign Ministry said.

Modi had forged close ties with Trump. The two leaders held a joint rally in the U.S. city of Houston last year and again in Gujarat state, in Modi this year, during a visit to India by Trump.

Critics of Modi have said the prime minister has come dangerously close to Trump’s candidacy, which they say could hurt India’s prospects under a Democratic administration.

India and the United States moved closer during Trump’s presidency as the two countries aimed to counter China’s growing military and economic influence in the region.

During the phone call, Modi also sent his best wishes to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, the daughter of an Indian immigrant whose election to the second highest public office in the United States was applauded in India.

The two leaders also discussed their priorities, including containing the novel coronavirus pandemic, promoting access to affordable vaccines and tackling climate change, the foreign ministry said.

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