United States Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Sunday criticised President Donald Trump for saying that India was releasing “filthy air” in the atmosphere. Biden said that is not how one talks about “friends” and tackle global challenges such as climate change.

“President Trump called India ‘filthy’,” Biden said in a tweet. “It’s not how you talk about friends – and it’s not how you solve global challenges like climate change. [Democratic vice-presidential candidate] Kamala Harris and I deeply value our partnership [with India] – and will put respect back at the center of our foreign policy.”

“Look at China, how filthy it is.” Trump had said during the final presidential debate with Biden in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday. “Look at Russia. Look at India. The air is filthy.”

In an opinion piece, Biden, who was the vice president during Barack Obama’s tenure, further spoke on India-US relations. “The Obama-Biden years were some of the best we’ve ever had between our two countries,” he wrote in India West. “A Biden-Harris Administration will build on that great progress and do even more. We can and should be natural allies.”

He said that if voted to power, he will ensure that India and the US “stand together” in the fight against terrorism and promote peace and stability where neither China nor any other country could threaten its neighbours. “We’ll open markets and grow the middle class in both the United States and India, and confront other international challenges together, like climate change, global health, transnational terrorism and nuclear proliferation,” he added.

He said that Harris and he were proud of the “incredible” support from the Indian American community, who are part of the election campaign.

There is an estimated Indian-American population of about four million, of which about 2.5 million are potential voters in the upcoming presidential elections. More than 1.3 million Indian-Americans are voters in key battleground states, including Texas, Michigan, Florida and Pennsylvania. A survey on the expected voting behaviour showed that Indian-Americans are likely to support Biden in the elections.

Earlier, opposition leaders in India had taken swipe at Trump’s comments on India. “Trump: Fruits of Friendship: Questions India’s COVID death toll,” Sibal tweeted, referring to Trump’s claim during the first debate that India had fudged data on its coronavirus deaths. “Says India sends dirt up into the air India ‘air is filthy’. Called India ‘tariff king’. The result of ‘Howdy Modi’.”

Congress leader Anand Sharma mocked Modi about the “Namaste Trump” event hosted in Ahmedabad in February. “President Donald Trump has insulted ‘Namaste India’ and exposed his lack of knowledge on climate change and the Paris Agreement,” Sharma tweeted. “A fact check would have told him that US is the largest polluter historically & its per capita greenhouse gas emissions are 6 times #FilthyAir India.”

PM Modi, Donald Trump get along so well, says ex-envoy Nikki Haley

US former envoy to United Nations Nikki Haley on Saturday said that Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi get “along so well” and the two countries are partnering in defence, trade and other sectors, NDTV reported.

Haley, who is an Indian-American Republican politician, pointed out that the US was bringing a coalition with India, Australia and Japan. “There’s more of a coalition that the United States is bringing in India, along with Australia and Japan,” she said at an event. “And so, really, the foreign policy of President Trump has been gangbusters over any other president that we have had in decades, and that affects every one of us from national security.”

She also praised the Indian-Americans, ahead of the US presidential elections, saying that the community contributes a lot to the US and that India was the “best country” but America needed to protect it.