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Biden says ‘raised human rights, free press’ issues with PM Modi, Cong takes dig

US President Joe Biden during his Vietnam visit that took place right after the Group of 20 Summit (G20) concluded in Delhi, India, told reporters that he had raised the issue of ‘respecting human rights’ and ‘free press’ during his meet with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The claim by US President Biden is significant because, when PM Modi was on his maiden state visit to the United States in June this year, several human rights organisations had flagged the curbing of press freedom in India and had urged President Biden to talk about the same.

In US, PM Modi and President Biden had conducted a rather rare press conference, Modi answered a questions from an US journalist about the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s record in treatment of minorities.

Later, the ruling party’s supporters had targeted the US journalist on social media platforms. The White House criticised the harassment as “unacceptable” and “antithetical to the very principles of democracy.”

On 8 September, Indian PM Modi had hosted US president Biden at the former’s official residence in Delhi, on the eve of the G20 summit.

“As I always do, I raised the importance of respecting human rights and the vital role the civil society and a free press have in building a strong and prosperous country with Modi,” President Biden said at Vietnam.

Notably, the Indian government’s readout of the meet between PM Modi and President Biden skipped the mention of a discussion on human rights.

It said Modi “conveyed his appreciation for President Biden’s vision and commitment to further strengthen the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership, which is based on shared democratic values, strategic convergences and strong people-to-people ties”.

Congress takes ‘Na Karunga, Na Karne Dunga’ jibe at PM Modi

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi after US President Joe Biden addressed the media during his visit to Vietnam following his visit to India for the G20 Summit and said that the latter had talked about human rights and press freedom with PM Modi.

Notably, no press was allowed for the 8 September meet between PM Modi and President Biden.

Referring to Biden‘s address in Vietnam stating he spoke to the Prime Minister about human rights and free press, Ramesh said, “Mr Modi saying to Mr Biden — “Na Press Conference karunga, Na karne doonga” (won’t hold a press conference, won’t let you hold one) has had no impact.”

Earlier, Jairam Ramesh had claimed that US President Joe Biden’s team was not allowed to interact with the media and take questions about his meeting with PM Narendra Modi after the bilateral meeting in Delhi ahead of the G20 Summit.

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Updated: 11 Sep 2023, 02:55 PM IST

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