Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has said that while US-India ties were “photo-ops” for President Donald Trump, for him they were about “getting things done”, and reiterated his promise to work with India to combat terrorism and prevent China from threatening its neighbours.
To illustrate his contrast with the US president, Biden recalled the role he played in the passage of the “historic” India-US civil nuclear deal as chairman of the US Senate foreign relations committee in 2008.
“At the time, I said if the United States and India became closer friends, then the world will be a safer place,” Biden wrote in an Op-Ed in India West, a news publication focused on the Indian diaspora.
President Barack Obama’s 2009-2016 tenure saw “some of the best years” between the two countries, Biden wrote, adding that he and his Indian-descent running mate Kamala Harris will “build on that great progress and do even more.”
“We can and should be natural allies,” wrote Biden, who currently has the upper hand in the election according to opinion polls, using a phrase first used by late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during a trip to the US in 1998.
Leaders from both countries have since tried their own version to define the relationship in their own vision.
Biden reiterated his promise—first laid out in an expansive platform he unveiled on August 15 at a virtual event to mark India’s Independence Day—to work with India on its key foreign policy concerns.
“If elected President, I will continue what I have long called for: The US and India will stand together against terrorism in all its forms and work together to promote a region of peace and stability where neither China nor any other country threatens its neighbours.” The resolve to combat terrorism was a reference to cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.
Both Biden and Trump have wooed Indian Americans voters—estimated to number 1.9 million—for their potential to make a difference, howsoever small, in battleground states that will determine the outcome. “The Indian American electorate of nearly 2 million voters is a powerful force that can make all the difference from North Carolina and Virginia to Pennsylvania and Michigan to Georgia and Texas and across the country,” he wrote, leaving no doubt the Op-Ed was an appeal to Indian American voters.
He added: “And as we value the Indian-American diaspora, we’ll continue to value the US-India relationship. For Donald Trump, it’s photo-ops. For me, it’s getting things done.”
It could not be immediately ascertained if the former vice-president was referring to a video released by the Trump campaign of clips of the president with Prime Minister Narendra Modi from their joint appearances at the ‘Howdy Modi’ and ‘Namaste Trump’ events in Houston and Ahmedabad to woo Indian American voters.
Biden promised them better ties with their country of origin and better lives for them in the US, addressing their main concerns, as with other Americans—promise to contain the Covid-19 epidemic, expand healthcare, not raise taxes for those under a certain income, encourage legal immigration, and make colleges tuition-free for some certain income categories.
Bide also noted in the Op-Ed the importance of respecting diversity among other shared values. “We will meet every challenge together as we strengthen both democracies—fair and free elections, equality under the law, freedom of expression and religion, and the boundless strength both nations’ draw from our diversity,” he wrote, adding, “These core principles have endured throughout each nations’ histories and will continue to be the source of our strength in the future.”