Washington: India is a "vibrant democracy" and anybody who happens to travel to New Delhi can see that for themselves, the White House said on Monday (local time) dismissing concerns over the health of democracy in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
When asked whether the US is concerned regarding the health of democracy in India, John Kirby, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House said, "India is a vibrant democracy. Anybody that, you know, happens to go to New Delhi can see that for themselves. And certainly, I would expect that the strength and health of democratic institutions will be part of the discussion." Further, he pointed out that the US administration never shies away from "expressing concerns that we might have with anyone around the world."
"You can do that with friends; you're supposed to do that with friends," the White House official said.
Later this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to travel to the US for a state visit. White House will host PM Modi for a state dinner on June 22.
Kirby said that the visit is "really about advancing what is now and what we hope will be a deeper, stronger partnership and friendship going forward."
Addressing a press briefing, Kirby called India a "strong partner" of the US on many levels. He said that India is a member of the Quad and a partner of the US with respect to Indo-Pacific security.
The White House official said that US President Joe Biden is looking forward to having PM Modi to advance the partnership between two countries.
In response to a question about PM Modi's state visit to the US, Kirby said, "India is a strong partner on very, many levels with the United States. You saw that, in Shangri-La, Secretary Austin announced some additional defence cooperation now that we're going to pursue with India. Of course, there's an awful lot of economic trade between our two countries. India is a member of the Pacific Quad and a key friend and partner with respect to Indo-Pacific security."
"I could go on and on and on. There's innumerable reasons why India certainly matters not just bilaterally between the two of our nations, but multilaterally on very many levels. 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," he added.
On June 5, the US Secretary of Defence concluded his visit to India. During his visit, he termed the US-India partnership as the "cornerstone" of a free and open Indo-Pacific. He said that both countries have a unique role in preserving the rules-based international order.
Addressing a press conference after holding wide-ranging talks with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Austin said, "I had productive discussions today with Defence Minister Singh and National Security Advisor Doval. As the world's two largest democracies, India and the United States play a unique role in preserving the rules-based international order that keeps us all secure."
He further said, "Since I last visited India in 2021, our global and strategic partnership has continued to rapidly grow. Today, the US -India partnership is a cornerstone of a free and open Indo-Pacific, and our deepening bonds show how technological innovation and growing military cooperation between two great powers can be a force for global good."
During his visit, Lloyd Austin also met with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and discussed Indo-Pacific, and cooperation in specific niche technologies in maritime, military and aerospace domains.