Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to the U.S. Congress Wednesday calling for closer ties between the two countries, especially in fighting terrorism.
Modi called the United States an “indispensable partner.”
Modi thanked House Speaker Paul Ryan for the invitation to speak for the first time at the U.S. Capitol, which he called a “temple of democracy.”
Modi noted that India is the world’s largest democracy, committed to “freedom, democracy and equality.”
“Our independence was ignited by the same idealism that fueled your struggle for freedom.”
He told Congress that his nation and the U.S. have overcome “the hesitations of history.”
Modi spoke about new problems around the world presented by terrorism. He thanked the Congress for taking action against extremist groups.
“The fight against terrorism has to be fought at many levels. And, the traditional tools of military intelligence or diplomacy alone would not be able to win this fight.”
Speaking of trade, Modi said that India now trades more with the U.S. than any other country, and called for continuing close economic and defense ties. And he noted the two countries cultural ties, including the millions of Americans who practice yoga.
“More Americans bend for yoga than to throw a curve ball,” he said.
Modi is the fifth Indian leader to address Congress since 1985. It is his fourth visit to Washington since getting elected in 2014. He was previously banned from entering the United States after religious riots broke out in the Indian state he governed.
Modi was criticized for not doing enough to stop the religious violence.
On Tuesday, the Indian leader met with President Obama.
“A key priority for both of us is how to promote economic prosperity and opportunity, and poverty alleviation for our people,” Obama said.
Obama and Modi discussed security issues and ways to limit the spread of nuclear weapons.
The two leaders said they are committed to signing the Paris climate change agreement this year. But they did not set a signing date, as some had hoped. Obama thanked Modi for his commitment to renewable energy technologies.
Human rights groups urged Obama to use Modi’s visit to raise issues related to slavery and human trafficking in India. The U.S. State Department's 2015 Trafficking in Persons report found that India's main trafficking problem is forced labor.
India has the most modern-day slaves in the world, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index. The survey estimates more than 18 million people in India are trapped in debt bondage, forced into marriage, sold to brothels or born into servitude.
Amy Sobel of Human Rights First said Modi’s visit is an opportunity for Obama to bring up global efforts to fight modern slavery. She said the two leaders should keep the U.S.-India relationship “grounded in respect for human dignity and fundamental rights.”
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Words in This Story
indispensable – adj. absolutely needed
manifest – v. to appear of happen
proposition – n. statement to be proven or explained
hesitation – n. a pause or delay
alleviate – v. to make less severe
renewable energy – n. energy from a source that is not depleted when used
bondage – n. the state of being a slave
brothel – n. a place where people pay to have sex
servitude – n. the state of being a slave
dignity – n. being worthy of honor or respect