Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, where he told lawmakers that terrorism is “incubated in India’s neighborhood” and said terrorism’s philosophies are common, regardless of whether being prried out by Sunni or Shiite Muslim groups.
“Globally, terrorism remains the biggest threat, going by different names, but with the common philosophy of hate, murder and violence,” Modi said. With that, he called for greater cooperation between the U.S. and India to counter this common enemy to humanity and “greater isolation for those who harbor, support and sponsor terrorists… terrorism must be delegitimized.”
Modi thanked House Speaker Paul Ryan, who extended the invitation to him, and described the city as a “temple of democracy [that] has encouraged and empowered other democracies the world over… As a representative of world’s largest democracy, it is indeed our privilege to speak to the leaders of it’s oldest,” he said.
He recalled the “solidarity” provided by the U.S. during the 2008 terrorist attacks carried out in Mumbai by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba Islamic militant group. “And for this we are grateful.”
The prime minister touched upon India’s assistance to Afghanistan, a common point of interest for both nations in addition to neighboring Pakistan, which has had a contentious relationship with India since the two nations split in 1947.
“Afghans naturally recognize that the sacrifices of America have helped create a better life,” Modi said. “But your contribution in helping keep the region safe and secure is deeply appreciated even beyond. And India, too, has made an enormous contribution and sacrifices to support our friendship with Afghan people.”
He emphasized a departure from a darker past between India and the U.S. and expounded upon the need to strike the hot irons of opportunity regarding the bright future that lies ahead for both nations to collaborate on a variety of fronts from national security to technology and bilateral trade.
“Our relationship is prime for a momentous future,” Modi said. “The constraints of past are behind us and foundations of the future firmly in place.” He added, “Today, our relationship has overcome the hesitations of history. Comfort, candor, and convergence define our conversation,” Modi expressed. “The pages of our friendship since then tell a remarkable story. You have helped us turn barriers into bridges of partnership.”
Up until two years ago, Modi was denied a visa and barred from entering the United States over alleged “violations of religious freedom” over violence between Muslims and Hindus in 2002. And just three short years ago, U.S.-India relations were tense following the arrest and strip-search of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade who was accused of underpaying her Indian housekeeper.
Quoting the late Walt Whitman, Modi said, “The orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments, the baton has given the signal.” He concluded his speech by adding, “In fact, if I might add, there is a new symphony in play.”
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