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India| Indian Prime Minister Modi met with first Indian-American VP Harris1

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met US Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington on Thursday, the first personal meeting between Mr Modi and the highest-ranking American in US history.

Ms. Harris is the first woman and the first black and South Asian vice president.

Mr Modi congratulated Ms Harris on her historic position and invited her to return.

“The people of India are looking forward to welcoming you,” he said.

In November, Ms. Harris’s hometown, Tholasandrapuram, in southern India, lit fireworks and marched on the street following the news of her victory.

Mr Modi’s three-day visit ends on Friday, when he will meet President Joe Biden for the first time.

The meeting came just weeks after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan and established a new administrative structure in Afghanistan. Earlier this month, a spokesman for the group told the BBC he wanted to “speak up for Muslims” in Indian-administered Kashmir.

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Modi met  with first Indian-American VP Harris
Modi met with first Indian-American VP Harris

India and Pakistan control different parts of the Muslim-majority region, but both claim it entirely.

During the 2019 campaign, Ms Harris condemned Mr Modi’s actions in Kashmir as part of the region’s sovereignty – one of the few candidates to do so.

Mr Modi will also attend the so-called “quad” summit with Mr Biden and the leaders of Australia and Japan on Friday – part of the White House’s efforts to boost co-operation in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Quad Summit| China’s factor in India’s (Delhi’s) Indo-Pacific strategy

Members of the Quad Forum, including US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, met in practice in March to discuss the distribution of the quad vaccine.
Like many meetings over the past year and a half, the first peak of the quad was virtual.

The group’s leaders, which include the United States, India, Australia and Japan, connected online to their nations back in March and agreed to co-operate in delivering one billion doses of the Code 19 vaccine to Asian countries by the end of 2022.

Members of the Quad Forum, including US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Members of the Quad Forum, including US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Quad will now hold its first private meeting in Washington DC on Friday, following a controversial new global joint security agreement announced last week.

The agreement, known as the Axis, was signed by the United States, Britain and Australia and will give Australia access to US nuclear-powered submarine technology for the first time.

So how does Ox Quad affect it? The leaders of the two forums refrained from directly mentioning China, but it is widely believed that their cooperation efforts are aimed at countering China’s influence in the Indian Pacific region.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will keep China in mind when he meets his fellow Chinese leaders. India is the only country in the group that shares a border with China, which is disputed in many places. Troops from both countries were involved in a deadly clash at one such location last year.

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Mr Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2017. Quad and Oaks leaders have refrained from directly referring to China, but analysts see their cooperation as part of an effort to counter Chinese influence.
India has been deeply involved in multilateral forums in recent years including some of which China is a member. Analysts say it comes from the existence of both Ox and Quad.

Pratish Rao, director of Control Risks Consultancy South Asia, said the quad meeting could allow Delhi to develop a common global perspective in areas of common concern with the three partners.

Mr Rao said the meeting could lay the groundwork for long-term co-operation in developing common standards on key technologies, military co-operation and resource mobilization for infrastructure projects in the region.

He said that both the forums, Akos and Quad Indo-Pacific would complement each other by demonstrating the countries’ commitment to regional security.

Quad is expected to announce deeper cooperation in the fight against climate change, cybersecurity, infrastructure development and the sharing of 5G infrastructure such as emerging technologies. Michael Kogelman, deputy director of the Wilson Center Think Tank in Washington, said the group has already shown that it can deliver tangible results, such as coming together to create and distribute covid vaccines.

Mr Kogelman said India would be happy with the outcome because such decisions were not too provocative for China.

The quad aims to provide one billion doses of vaccine by the end of 2022.
But analysts say there are some deeper problems for India within the quad framework. The key issues are India’s own challenges in the Indian Ocean and its border disputes with China. India has long been reluctant to invest in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, run by China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and now Beijing’s growing influence in Afghanistan. It is a matter of concern in Delhi.

So how much can Quad help India with its security challenges? Former Indian diplomat Jatinder Nath Misra said India’s biggest concern should be the protection of its maritime interests.

“India needs to ask some tough questions about how this group can help protect its interests in its wider maritime neighborhood where China has been establishing its presence for years,” Misra said.

Ahead of the quad summit, Mr Modi will have his first face-to-face meeting with US President Joe Biden on Friday. The meeting will be an opportunity for the two leaders to get to know each other better.

Mr Modi and Mr Biden cannot talk publicly about China, but experts say the leaders will discuss Beijing’s claims in the Hindu Pacific and Afghanistan.

The Taliban’s occupation of Afghanistan has changed geopolitics in the region.
India is likely to persuade the United States not to allow the Taliban to use militant groups such as Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba to plan attacks against Afghanistan. Most countries are still struggling to clarify the terms of their partnership with the Taliban, and India wants to discuss the issue as it makes its policy.

Other key issues include trade disputes and the issue of India’s purchase of S400 missile defense systems from Russia. The United States has not yet made it clear whether it will give India any relief from the embargo.

This bilateral meeting cannot find a concrete solution to these problems. But it should allow Mr Modi and Mr Biden to move beyond the current rift and plan a new roadmap.

Mr Rao said the two countries were likely to co-operate in other areas, such as the Gavi and Quakes vaccine initiatives to leverage US vaccine stocks and Indian production capabilities.

“They will also discuss tackling climate change through joint investment in clean technology and maintaining already strong co-operation on defense and security issues,” he added.

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