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Joe Biden arrives in India for G20, meetings with Narendra Modi, Vietnam leaders

U.S. President Joe Biden (L) meets with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the G20 summit on Friday in New Delhi. Photo by India's PM Press Office
U.S. President Joe Biden (L) meets with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the G20 summit on Friday in New Delhi. Photo by India's PM Press Office

Sept. 8 (UPI) -- U.S. President Joe Biden arrived in India on Friday for the first leg of a three-day trip that includes a major speech before the G20 summit and a diplomatic visit to Vietnam for strategic meetings with the communist regime amid growing tensions in Southeast Asia.

Upon arriving in New Delhi, Biden sat down with Prime Minister Narendra Modi the day before the highly anticipated summit gets underway.

The White House did not initially reveal the topics that Biden and Modi would discuss after the pair announced an extensive package of defense and technology agreements during the Modi's state visit to the White House in June.

But talking to the press Friday in New Delhi ahead of the summit, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said one of the main priorities for the United States at the event will be supporting emerging markets in developing countries.

"One year since my call to action to the multilateral development banks, we've worked with a growing coalition of partners to make significant progress on reforms related to the World Bank's mission and vision, incentives, operational model, and financing capacity," Yellen said. "We're glad to have [World Bank President] Ajay Banga as our partner in this work. And we look forward to more work with the regional development banks and on how to achieve greater collaboration across the MDB system, including to increase access to climate finance."

On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife, Emine, arrived at the airport on the eve of the G20 summit in New Delhi. Photo by G20 India
On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife, Emine, arrived at the airport on the eve of the G20 summit in New Delhi. Photo by G20 India

Yellen also said crisis response is another priority on which U.S. stakeholders will focus at the summit.

"We're also asking Congress for two and a quarter billion dollars to boost the World Bank's concessional finance for global challenges and for crisis response," Yellen said. "And we've requested authorization for a loan of up to $21 billion for the IMF, including for the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust, which desperately needs more resources."

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (Second from left) accompanied by his wife, Yuko, arrives in New Delhi on Friday. Photo by G20 India
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (Second from left) accompanied by his wife, Yuko, arrives in New Delhi on Friday. Photo by G20 India

She also said debt relief would be a priority discussion topic at the summit.

Yellen also told reporters that another major priority for the United States at the summit will be the continued support from the West for Ukraine's defense against Russian invaders.

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the G20 summit on Friday in New Delhi. Photo by India's PM Press Office
U.S. President Joe Biden meets with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the G20 summit on Friday in New Delhi. Photo by India's PM Press Office

"As a second priority area, we remain committed to extensive and strategic multilateral action in response to Russia's war on Ukraine," she said. "The price cap and sanctions, both the result of unprecedented global collaboration, are having powerful impacts on Russia's ability to wage its brutal and unjust war."

Yellen emphasized that "there has been bipartisan support for this funding to date, and it's critical that we continue to provide timely economic assistance."

She added: "During my visit to Kyiv earlier this year, I saw firsthand the importance of this assistance in enabling Ukraine's resistance on the frontlines."

Yellen also said the United States is hoping to use the summit "to advance the U.S.-India relationship."

"We highly value our bilateral relationship with India," Yellen said. "In fact, this is my fourth time in India over the last year, making it the country I visited most frequently as Treasury secretary. ... The U.S. is home to the largest Indian diaspora outside of Asia and is India's largest export market. Expanding our bilateral economic ties and our cooperation on global challenges is crucially important to us."

Biden's trip comes days after lady Jill Biden tested positive for COVID-19. The president has tested negative several times and continued to show no symptoms, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said previously, adding that Biden would wear a mask indoors for 10 days.

The summit begins Saturday, with the president attending two sessions called "One Earth" and "One Family," and will later take part in a group photo before participating in an event to launch the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment.

During a speech Saturday, Biden is expected to take an open opportunity to rally more international support for Ukraine as Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin were skipping the summit.

The gathering comes days after a Russian missile strike in Kyiv killed 16 people ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's arrival in the Ukrainian capital on Wednesday to announce a new $1 billion aid package that Biden was expected to mention in his remarks.

The president's message will likely call attention to the strength of the American economy, including low unemployment, in an effort to deepen alliances with the G20 partners, creating new strategic military and economic advantages for the United States around the world.

The summit also takes place amid increasing military threats from North Korea and China, which have escalated provocations in the Indo-Pacific in recent months. At the same time, Xi and Putin have formed a tighter alliance amid the war, and North Korea is believed to be considering a deal to supply weapons to the Russian military for the first time, prompting warnings from Washington.

The Biden administration has been pushing for closer cooperation among its allies in the region in light of a shifting balance of power across the globe, and Xi vowing to take steps toward "reunification" with Taiwan during his third term, which started in March.

The president would also call for further cooperation between member nations to counter Chinese influence in Africa as the Biden administration was stepping up efforts to uproot Chinese infrastructure around the world amid increasing fears of espionage.

Intelligence-sharing activities have ramped up in recent months, with Biden signing strategic agreements with several Asian nations while shoring up military installations in the South China Sea and elsewhere.

Separately, Biden was expected to try to mend relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia in an effort to bolster the Middle East economy.

Biden would also call on developing nations in the collective to invest more in clean energy infrastructure.

Later in the day, Biden was scheduled to have dinner with the other G20 leaders as part of a cultural gala.

On Sunday, Biden is scheduled to visit the Raj Ghat Memorial before departing for Vietnam, where the commander-in-chief will meet with communist leader General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in Hanoi.

Biden and Trong will hold a joint press conference after the talks.

On Monday, Biden plans to meet with Vietnamese Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính and prominent CEOs before attending a state luncheon with President Vo Van Thuong.

Before departing, Biden plans to visit the John Sidney McCain III Memorial in Hanoi.

From there, the president is scheduled to fly to Alaska to deliver remarks to service members, first responders and their families on the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, before returning to Washington the same evening.

The G20 comprises the world's biggest economies: Argentina, Australia, India, Indonesia, Italy, Saudi Arabi, South Africa, South Korea, Britain, the United States, China, France, Germany, Japan, Canada, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Turkey and the European Union.

Collectively, the body accounts for about 85% of global GDP.