Reporters accompanying President Joe Biden to India for the G20 summit have been denied the opportunity to question both Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their meeting in New Delhi. Despite repeated requests from the White House for increased press access, the meeting will take place at the prime minister’s residence, deviating from the usual format of bilateral visits. This has sparked discussions about press freedom in India and raised concerns about the restriction of independent reporting.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rarely taken questions since coming to power and has faced criticism from press freedom groups for cracking down on independent reporting. During a state visit in June, Modi eventually agreed to participate in a news conference at the White House after lengthy negotiations. However, Indian officials initially resisted the idea, causing tension between the two sides.
The Biden administration has emphasized its commitment to press freedom and has not hesitated to criticize Modi on this issue and others related to humanitarian concerns. In June, several Democratic lawmakers boycotted Modi’s address to Congress, citing India’s treatment of Muslim minorities. However, Biden extended a warm welcome to the Indian prime minister during his White House visit, highlighting the shared commitment to democracy between the two nations.
The White House has expressed its frustration regarding the lack of media access during Biden’s trip to India for the G20 summit. Officials, including national security adviser Jake Sullivan and White House communications director Ben LaBolt, made multiple requests to their Indian counterparts for increased press access. However, these efforts did not yield any positive results.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre assured reporters that the administration had been actively working to secure media access during the trip. Despite their efforts, the Indian government remained unresponsive to the requests. Jean-Pierre reiterated the administration’s commitment to addressing the issue and stated they would continue working towards a resolution.
Instead of addressing reporters in New Delhi, President Biden will hold a news conference in Vietnam, where it is deemed logistically easier to accommodate media questions. This decision has raised questions about the lack of formal engagements with world leaders during the G20 summit. National security adviser Jake Sullivan hinted that most of the interactions would be informal and on the margins rather than formal bilateral meetings.
While the core fact of restricted press access remains the same, the new article provides a unique perspective on the situation, focusing on the implications for press freedom in India and the efforts made by the Biden administration. The article also includes additional information about the background of the issue and the alternative arrangement of a news conference in Vietnam.