US rolls out red carpet for Modi even as criticism grows

Despite simmering differences over Ukraine and human rights, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi began a state visit to Washington on Wednesday. This comes as the United States intensifies its courtship of India.

The country, which has a population of more than a billion, is considered as a key player in an escalating global struggle with China, so President Joe Biden is laying on the full show for just the third state visit of his administration.

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Modi began his tour with a private dinner with Biden at the White House after arriving from New York, where he used a public yoga practice to demonstrate Indian soft power.

India’s most powerful leader in decades will be formally welcomed to the White House on Thursday, address a joint session of Congress, and enjoy a state supper.

For Modi’s supper, a renowned plant-based chef from California was chosen by the White House. Modi is a devoted vegetarian. The White House announced that Modi will take questions alongside Biden, which is unusual for a leader who frequently criticizes the press.

People who are following the trip anticipate several major announcements, including maybe an agreement for General Electric to supply the engines for India’s first indigenous fighter fighters.

The two biggest democracies in the world are also expected to make pronouncements regarding climate change, a topic on which they have long disagreed, albeit amicably, about the obligations of industrialized vs developing nations.

Since the late 1990s, the United States has been trying to improve its ties with India because it sees the two countries as having similar perspectives on China’s problems.

In an interview with reporters prior to the trip, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby downplayed the relationship with China, which Secretary of State Antony Blinken had earlier in the week in an effort to defuse escalating tensions.

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