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Biden courts Modi as China, Russia ties put India’s allegiance in play: ‘Golden opportunity’

The State visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will see President Biden court the U.S. ally, who has grown cooler with the current administration, moving closer to Russia and even China amid tensions between Washington and those countries.

“Modi’s visit comes at a crucial time for both countries,” Siddhartha Dubey, adjunct professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, told Fox News Digital. The “U.S. needs as much support (as) it can get to counter Russia and China’s belligerence and Biden needs to show a foreign policy success.”

India and the U.S. shared a rosier dynamic during the Trump administration, with each leader speaking glowingly of his counterpart. That dynamic initially cooled as Biden took office and as India appeared to give some support to Russia despite President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which much of the world has condemned. 

Modi kicked off his visit to the U.S. with a stop in New York City on Tuesday to hold talks with business and thought leaders before arriving Wednesday to visit the White House and dine with the president. Biden plans to formally speak with Modi on Thursday, when the two will discuss a number of security and economic concerns, with Biden aiming to bring India closer to the U.S.

President Biden and PM Modi

President Joe Biden talks with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he arrives at the White House for a private dinner, Wednesday, June 21, 2023, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


Modi told the Wall Street Journal that “India deserves a much higher, deeper and wider profile and a role,” adding that he did not see India’s role as “supplanting any country” but that the country is simply “gaining its rightful position in the world.” 

“The world today is more interconnected and interdependent than ever before,” Modi told the Journal. “To create resilience, there should be more diversification in supply chains.” Modi is expected to complete deals to manufacture jet-fighter engines in India to power advanced light combat aircraft and purchase high-altitude predator drones from the U.S.

Joe Biden Narendra Modi

President Biden, right, meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Quad leaders summit at Kantei Palace, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

He also dismissed criticism from some parts of the U.S. about India’s soft response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, arguing that “this type of perception” isn’t widespread in the U.S. and that India’s position is “well known and well understood in the world.”  

Last year, India overtook the United Kingdom to become the fifth-largest economy in the world – underscoring the need to make sure the country remains a strong U.S. ally, according to Elaine Dezenski, senior director of the Center on Economic and Financial Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.


“Unlike Xi Jinping in China, India’s Modi has remained constructively engaged with the U.S., offering the Biden Administration a golden opportunity to carve out a more productive alliance between two of the world’s largest and economically dynamic democracies,” Dezenski told Fox News Digital. 

“While personal relationships between leaders are essential, the economic offer of exchange is far more critical, especially now,” she stressed. “Quad members United States, Japan, and Australia, as well as other democracies, can and should make a more compelling offer to deepen economic, political, and military engagement with India.”

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, China’s President Xi Jinping, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro pose for a photo at the BRICS summit in Brasilia, Brazil, Nov. 14, 2019. (Pavel Golovkin/Pool via REUTERS)

India sits within key, but competing, organizations: the QUAD, made up of the U.S. and Indo-Pacific partners India, Japan and Australia, which is a dialogue between those nations on security matters; and two groups led by China and Russia called BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. 

The Chinese-led groups have a strong economic element, encouraging trade between the members of each group. The BRICS economic bloc has even discussed a common currency that members could use as the current group looks to expand its membership. 

Modi in New York

Supporters gather near the United Nations headquarters to welcome India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Wednesday, June 21, 2023, in New York. Modi joined diplomats and dignitaries at the United Nations for a morning session of yoga, praising it as “truly universal” and “a way of life.”  (AP Photo/Edith M. Lederer)


“Modi is carving out a broader geopolitical role for India as the ‘voice’ of the global south, which can serve as an effective counter to China’s corrupting influence,” Dezenki said. “However, we should expect Modi to remain engaged and open to BRICS as a forum for leadership and a multilateral tool where it suits them.”

Trade between the U.S. and India in 2022 climbed to a record $191 billion, with $20 billion in 2020 for defense sales alone. The Indian diaspora in the U.S. stands at nearly 5 million and has become an economic, cultural and political powerhouse.

Indian policemen

Indian policemen stand in front of a hoarding featuring Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a practice session before fourth test cricket match between India and Australia, in Ahmedabad, India, Tuesday, March 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

“There is a massive dollar importance to this visit and the growing trade partnership between Delhi and Washington,” Dubey explained. “From arms to tech to civilian nuclear energy deals.”


“United Nations abstentions on condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and India’s lapping up cheap Russian oil aside, Modi’s government is solidly in Washington’s camp,” Dubey argued. “The relationship looks different from other key allies such as the U.K. and South Korea, and is still being worked out, but it is a reality which will carry on post-Biden and Modi.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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