India plays a crucial role in ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific that is connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient, the Biden administration has said, a week ahead of the Official State Visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United States.
The US, India and several other world powers have been talking about the need to ensure a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific in the backdrop of China's rising military manoeuvring in the region.
Our partnership with India is one of our most consequential relationships. We look closely with India on...we work closely with India on our most vital priorities. They play a crucial role in ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific that is connected, prosperous, secure, and resilient, State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters at his daily news conference on Thursday.
Secretary (of State, Tony) Blinken looks forward to seeing Prime Minister Modi and other members of the Indian delegation, while they're here; and working to make progress on all the issues with which we consult with India, Miller said.
Prime Minister Modi is visiting the US from June 21-24 at the invitation of US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden. They will host Modi at a state dinner on June 22. The visit also includes an address to the Joint Session of the Congress on June 22.
Responding to a question on visa delays in India, Miller said US consular teams have been making a huge push to process as many visa applications as possible in India, including in those visa categories that are key to the bilateral relationship.
This is a top priority for our government. We know that there is more work that we can do, and we are working hard to do it, he said.
When asked about human rights issues in India, Miller said there are a number of issues with which the US work with India and it also regularly raises with Indian Government officials its human rights concerns.
We've been clear about that. We speak with them privately we speak about those privately with the Indian Government...," he said.
I will also say that with respect to protests, we support the right of every American to exercise their First Amendment rights to make their voices heard. We just earlier in this briefing talked about a very vigorous exercise of the First Amendment right that's been happening outside our building for, I don't know, a week or two now, and we continue to support the right of Americans to do so, Miller said.
Responding to a question on US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, he said: I've heard that the new American ambassador, Ambassador Garcetti, is actually a bit of a celebrity in India, as well.
Let me just say again that our partnership with India is one of our most consequential relationships. We really look forward to the visit next week. In addition to hosting Prime Minister Modi at the White House, there will be a state lunch here at the State Department, and we're all very much looking forward to it, Miller said.
In March, Garcetti, the former Mayor of Los Angeles, was officially sworn in as the US Ambassador to India by Vice President Kamala Harris during a ceremonial event here.
Garcetti's nomination was pending before the US Congress since July 2021 when he was nominated by President Joe Biden.
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