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India-US ties ‘broader in engagement, deeper in understanding, warmer in friendship’: PM Modi

Underlining that India’s ties with the US are on an “upward trajectory”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said India’s growth should be compared with other democracies and not China.

In an interview with UK-based The Financial Times, PM Modi also brushed aside a question about a recent relaxation of US-China tensions, saying they are “best addressed by the people and government of America and China”.

When asked about whether India’s closer relations with the US might be described as an alliance, Modi said, “Regarding the best words to describe this relationship, I leave it to you…Today, the India-US relationship is broader in engagement, deeper in understanding, warmer in friendship than ever before.”

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“The world is interconnected as well as interdependent. Our foremost guiding principle in foreign affairs is our national interest…This stance allows us to engage with various nations in a manner that respects mutual interests and acknowledges the complexities of contemporary geopolitics,” he said.

His remarks come after in an interview with FT, which was published on Wednesday, PM Modi had for the first time responded to allegations of an Indian assassination plot in the US to kill Khalistan separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

Festive offer

“If someone gives us any information, we would definitely look into it. If a citizen of ours has done anything good or bad, we are ready to look into it. Our commitment is to the rule of law,” Modi had said on the alleged plot against Pannun.

He had also played down any impact that this issue may have on Indo-US ties.

On India’s growth, he said, “You have done a comparison with China, but it might be more apt to compare India with other democracies… It’s important to recognise that India wouldn’t have achieved the status of the world’s fastest-growing economy if the issues you’ve highlighted were as pervasive as suggested… Often, these concerns stem from perceptions, and altering perceptions sometimes takes time.”

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On the Israel-Hamas conflict, he said India has supported the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza while reiterating its support for a two-state solution. “I remain in touch with the leaders in the region. If there is anything India can do to take forward efforts towards peace, we will certainly do so,” he said.

When asked what future the Muslim minority has in India, Modi pointed instead to the economic success of India’s Parsis, who he described as a “religious micro-minority residing in India”.

“Despite facing persecution elsewhere in the world, they have found a haven in India, living happily and prospering. That shows that the Indian society itself has no feeling of discrimination towards any religious minority,” he said, in a response that made no direct reference to the country’s roughly 200 million Muslims.

The FT reported that during the interview, a question about the Modi government’s alleged crackdown on his critics “elicits a long and hearty laugh”.

“There is a whole ecosystem that is using the freedom available in our country to hurl these allegations at us every day, through editorials, TV channels, social media, videos, tweets, etc,” he said. “They have the right to do so. But others have an equal right to respond with facts.”

Modi pointed to what he said is the long history of outsiders who underestimated India. “In 1947, when India became independent, the British who left made a lot of very dire predictions about India’s future. But we have seen that those predictions and preconceptions have all been proven false.” Today, those who similarly doubt his government, Modi added, “will also be proven wrong”.

© The Indian Express Pvt Ltd

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