US official makes ‘unnecessary’ reference to Modi in India

The Indian government is upset with a reference made by a US State Department official to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in defense of the immunity extended to Saudi Arabian ruler Mohammad bin Sultan, who is being accused of killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Arindam Bagchi, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson, responded to a question about a US official referring to Prime Minister Modi when explaining the reasons for granting immunity to the Saudi ruler, saying, “I do not understand how the comment was either relevant, necessary or contextual.”

In reference to the bilateral ties between India and the United States, he said, “Our two countries enjoy a special relationship that is growing stronger and stronger, and we look forward to working with the US to further strengthen it.”

During a briefing, last Friday, Vedant Patel, the principal deputy spokesperson for the State Department, responded that the US has not granted immunity to the Saudi Crown Prince for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi for the first time and that immunity has previously been granted to several heads of state, including Prime Minister Modi.

Also, Bagchi denied that the prime minister visited the United States in December as reported.

“No proposal has been made by our side regarding a visit by the Prime Minister to the United States in December. It is inaccurate to report this in the media,” Bagchi stated.

The Prime Minister also dismissed social media posts regarding “false comments” made by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and a White House spokesperson regarding the brief bilateral meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden during the recent G-20 summit in Bali.

“We have seen some inaccurate social media posts which attribute false statements to the Minister of External Affairs, who has not commented on this in the press or on social media. Furthermore, the press secretary of the White House is alleged to have made false statements. In this regard, I would like to implore you to refrain from giving credence to such inaccurate information,” Bagchi said.

He stated that the prime minister met with Biden a number of times during the Bali Summit, including a brief bilateral meeting and a trilateral meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

It was during these interactions that they exchanged views on a number of issues. All of these discussions are summarized in our press releases and tweets as well as in the foreign secretary’s briefing in Bali.

A brief bilateral meeting did occur between the two leaders, according to Bagchi, and the US has also issued its readout of the trilateral meeting.

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