Biden and Modi pledge to deepen ties in talks ahead of G20 summit

US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have pledged to deepen ties between their two countries, as the leaders held direct talks ahead of a Group of 20 summit in New Delhi at the weekend.

In a joint statement on Friday, shortly after Biden landed in the Indian capital, the US and India reaffirmed their support for “a free, open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific” as members of the Quad alliance, which also includes Australia and Japan.

The talks marked the second in-person meeting between Biden and Modi since June, when the Indian leader made an official state visit to the White House as part of the countries’ push to bolster their alliance in the face of China’s growing influence.

“Many say that right now, it’s really a kind of golden age when it comes to the ties between the US and India. Things have almost never been better,” Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu reported from New Delhi on Friday ahead of the Biden-Modi meeting.

“Undoubtedly, what’s bringing these two sides together is their bonding over their shared concern over … China’s rising influence in the region,” she said.

The US is hoping to boost India “as a possible counterweight” to China, Yu said, as Washington views Beijing as its top global competitor and ties between the pair have been tested in recent years over a number of issues.

India late last month lodged an objection through diplomatic channels with Beijing over China’s new standard map that lays claim to India’s territory along their shared border.

The map was released just days after Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met on the sidelines of a summit of the BRICS bloc of developing economies — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — and agreed to work to de-escalate tensions at their disputed border.