New Delhi: About two weeks after prominent watchers called Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential race, the new US President-elect spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.
Modi was the 12th foreign leader to get a phone call from Biden since he declared his victory on November 7, after winning the majority of the electoral college votes. The Indian prime minister had been quick to congratulate him through social media.
The news of their conversation was made public by Modi in a tweet late on Tuesday night. He said that the two leaders spoke about their “shared priorities and concerns – COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific Region”.
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.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 17, 2020
According to an official readout from the Ministry of Eternal Affairs, Modi described Biden’s victory as a “testament to the strength and resilience of democratic traditions in the United States”.
The outgoing US President Donald Trump has still not conceded defeat, with his party insisting that there are electoral malpractices. With no concrete proof, nearly all the legal suits brought by Trump in various states have been thrown out by various courts.
“The Prime Minister warmly recalled his earlier interactions with H.E. Joseph R. Biden, including during his official visits to the United States in 2014 and in 2016. H.E. Joseph R. Biden had chaired the Joint Session of the U.S. Congress that was addressed by the Prime Minister during his 2016 visit,” said the MEA press release.
Stating that the two leaders agreed to advance the strategic partnership built on shared values and common interests”, the readout added that they 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 press communique from US President-elect’s office listed the same discussion points as the MEA readout, with two more additions – “launching the global economic recovery” and “strengthening democracy at home and abroad”.
These two additions have been key priorities for Biden – with economic recovery part of the four areas of primary concern identified by the presidential transition team.
In his campaign’s foreign policy platform, Biden had stated that in his first year of presidency, he wanted to organise a summit of democracies – which was a clear signal that human rights and fight against authoritarianism would be on his agenda.
Besides, Modi also asked Biden to convey congratulations to his running mate, 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”.
I also conveyed warm congratulations for VP-elect @KamalaHarris. 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.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 17, 2020
Even Biden made a reference to Kamala Harris’s heritage. “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,” said the statement from his office.
India’s turn to speak with the newly-elected US President came after Biden had spoken with neighbours and formal allies.
Last week, the first global leader to speak with Biden was Justin Trudeau, prime minister of neighbouring Canada. However, Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador has declined to formally congratulate Biden, so there has been no phone call so far.
Then, Biden moved to Europe, speaking with leaders from France, Germany, United Kingdom and Ireland. A day later, he spoke with formal US allied partners in Indo-Pacific – Australia, Japan and South Korea.
Biden, who will be US’s second Catholic president, spoke with Pope Francis on November 12 and Italy’s Giuseppe Conte.
After talking with members of the G7 and allies, the new US President-elect had a pause over the weekend, before resuming his phone calls to world capitals on Tuesday.
The first one to get a call on Tuesday was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had aligned himself closely with outgoing President Donald Trump. The Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also spoke with Biden. He also had separate conversations with South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa and Chilean president Sebastián Piñera during the day.
In early reflection of his key priorities, Biden has spoken about climate change with all the world leaders so far, according to official readouts.