The White House on Monday appeared to dismiss the criticism related to India’s democratic health under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
John Kirby, the Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the White House’s National Security Council, said, “India is a vibrant democracy. Anybody that happens to go to New Delhi can see that for themselves. And certainly, I would expect that strength and health of democratic institutions will be part of the discussion.”
At a news conference in Washington, in response to a question, John Kirby stressed that the US administration never shies away and added, “You’re supposed to do that with friends. You never shy away from expressing concerns that we might have with anyone around the world.”
Kirby mentioned that during the Shangri-La conference, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced further defence cooperation plans with India. “You saw that in Shangri-La Secretary (of Defense, Lloyd) Austin announced some additional defense cooperation now that we’re going to pursue with India.. India is a member of the Pacific Quad and a key friend and partner with respect to Indo-Pacific security,” he said.
With respect to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to the US later this month, Kirby said, “This visit is really about advancing what is now and what we hope will be a deeper, stronger partnership and friendship going forward.”
Emphasising the significance of India-US bilateral relations, Kerby noted, “There are innumerable reasons why India certainly matters, not just bilaterally between the two of our nations, but multilaterally. And the President is looking forward very much to having Prime Minister Modi here to talk about all those issues and to advance and deepen that partnership and that friendship.”
In addition, Kirby noted India’s vital role as a friend and partner in preserving stability in the Indo-Pacific region as well as its membership in the Pacific Quad.