The White House on Thursday suggested that India had dismissed its requests for better access for the media when United States President Joe Biden and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit.
This will mean that reporters traveling with Biden to India for the G20 summit will not get an opportunity to ask Biden or Modi questions, reported CNN.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre said that the White House was “doing its best” to ensure media get better access during Biden’s visit to India.
“We made the request multiple times and at different pressure points, if you will – the NSC [National Security Council] level, comms level, the folks on the ground who are doing a lot of hard work on the ground to make sure that this trip, not just for the president, for all of you [mediapersons], for all of us, is smooth,” Pierre said. “And so, it’s been happening, we’ve been doing the work. I mean I would leave it to the Indian government to speak for themselves.”
The summit of the G20, comprising the world’s 19 largest economies and the European Union, will be held on September 9 and 10 in New Delhi.
During the G20 Summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold more than 15 bilateral meetings. On Friday he will meet US President Joe Biden, Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
On Thursday, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that the press would be provided with a readout of the meeting held between Modi and Biden. He also underlined that the meeting between the two leaders is unusual from regular bilateral visits as it will take place at Modi’s residence.
“This is not your typical bilateral visit to India with meetings taking place in the prime minister’s office and an entire programme,” Sullivan said. “This is the host of the G20 hosting a significant number of leaders, doing so in his home, and he [Modi] has set out the protocols he’s set out.”
The White House said Biden, who will be traveling to Vietnam after the G20 summit, will hold a press conference in Hanoi. On being asked about the decision to hold a press conference in Hanoi, the White House asserted that it was “easier” for the president to take questions from reporters in Vietnam.
“It was logistically easier to do it in Vietnam,” Pierre said. “As you know, when summits as the G20 happen, it is all-consuming, all hands on deck. And it was just logistically easier to do it there [Hanoi].”
On June 23, Modi had taken questions at a rare press conference with Biden at the White House in Washington. In a question about the discrimination against religious minorities in India, Modi had defended the secular roots of Indian democracy.
“There is absolutely no space for discrimination...And when you talk of democracy, if there are no human values and there is no humanity, there are no human rights, then it’s not a democracy,” he said.
The press conference was followed by a wave of trolling of The Wall Street Journal reporter Sabrina Siddiqui as Hindutva supporters and members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party attacked her as “the daughter of Pakistani parents” and for “echoing the claims of Islamists”.