Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the US Congress today that India
and the US have overcome “the hesitations of history” and called for stronger economic and defense ties between the two countries.
“Comfort, candor and convergence define our conversations,” he said in a speech that urged greater economic and defense ties.
PM Modi drew laughter from the lawmakers crowding the House chamber for the joint meeting of Congress with a tongue-in-cheek description of the rough and tumble politics of the US – which he compared to the Rajya Sabha.
“I am informed that the working of the US Congress is harmonious. I am also told that you are well-known for your bipartisanship,” he said. “Well, you are not alone.”
He went on to say the Upper House is known for a similar spirit. “Time and again, I have also witnessed a similar spirit in the Indian Parliament, especially in our Upper House,” he joked to great applause. The ruling coalition is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha has allowed the opposition, led by the Congress, to block key legislation and reforms.
At the PM’s meeting on Tuesday with President Obama, the two leaders consolidated strong bilateral ties but fell short of major outcomes.
India, the world’s third-largest carbon emitter among nations, has said it will strive to formally join a global climate deal – as the US and China have said they will do – but no ironclad commitment has been offered.
There was also some progress on a landmark civilian nuclear agreement between the US and India that was reached in 2008. The two governments said that US-based Westinghouse Electric Co is preparing to build six nuclear reactors in India, but it has yet to finalize a contract.
PM Modi is the fifth Indian leader to make a speech to Congress since 1985. The last was by his predecessor, Dr Manmohan Singh, in 2005.