Protocol Dictates Vice President Kamala Harris Be Prime Minister Modi’s Host in Washington
File photos of Prime Minister Modi and Vice President Kamala Harris. (IANS photos)
By ARUL LOUIS/IANS
NEW YORK – As Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not the head of state like President Joe Biden, but the head of government, his equivalent in protocol is Vice President Kamala Harris, and she will be the formal host.
He is scheduled to meet with her on Sept. 24.
Harris has had a tense relationship with Modi’s administration after criticizing External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in 2019 for refusing to meet with the House Foreign Affairs Committee of Pramila Jayapal, an Indian American member of the House Representatives who was not a member of the panel included in the meeting.
Jayapal had introduced a resolution criticizing India over Kashmir.
“It’s wrong for any foreign government to tell Congress what members are allowed in meetings on Capitol Hill,” Harris said at the time.
The Indian American leader has desisted from criticism of India after becoming vice president, but her niece Meena Harris has supported the farmers’ agitation and attacked the Indian government.
Although Harris had spoken to several world leaders soon after becoming vice president, she had a phone conversation with Modi only in June when she discussed Biden’s offer to send vaccines to India from the U.S. stockpile when it suffered a Covid surge.
Any misgivings may have healed and Modi tweeted, “I deeply appreciate the assurance of vaccine supplies to India as part of the US Strategy for Global Vaccine Sharing. I also thanked her for all the support and solidarity from the US government, businesses and Indian diaspora.”
Modi may invite Harris to visit the homeland of her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris.
When Modi visited Washington in 2016, Biden, who was then the vice president, was the formal host.
Aside from the Quad summit that Modi will attend on Sept. 24, soon after landing in Washington, he will participate in the Covid-19 summit that Biden has convened.
According to an administration official, the summit aims to “rally the world urgently to work towards ending this pandemic as rapidly as possible and building our systems better, to be able to handle the next pandemic.”
Modi is also expected to meet with business leaders.
A bilateral meeting is scheduled with Biden on Friday, at which Foreign Secretary Harshvardhan Shringla told reporters in New Delhi, they will discuss “the current regional security situation following developments in Afghanistan” and “the need to stem radicalization, extremism, cross-border terrorism and dismantling of global terror networks.”
Enhancing trade and investment, increasing defenxe and security cooperation, and partnering in developing clean energy will also come up in their talks, Shringla added.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval will be accompanying Modi during the visit.
Modi will be in New York on Sept. 25 to address the high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.