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Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden hold bilateral meeting at the Oval Office in the White House, in Washington DC on Friday. Image Credit: ANI

Washington: US President Joe Biden went off-script while meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House and recalled his visit to Mumbai as the Vice-President and joked about his connection with India.

The two leaders sat in the Oval Office of the White House for their opening remarks, where Biden spoke about a letter he received in 1972 from Mumbai. Interestingly the sender’s last name was Biden.

The US President cracked jokes about the presence of five Bidens in India.

“Maybe I shouldn’t - these are not part of my prepared remarks but when I was in Mumbai as Vice President, I finished meeting with the equivalent of the Chamber of Commerce. And afterwards, the Indian press asked me, do I have any relatives in India?” Biden said.

“And I said I’m not sure but, when I was elected as a 29-year-old in 1972 before I was sworn in, I got a letter from a person named Biden - last name - in Mumbai, from Mumbai. And I said, but I was never able to follow up,” Biden quipped.

“The next morning, I had a press conference going away, and the Indian press, some of these folks, said you have five Bidens in India. And although we never admitted it - jokingly - I’ve found out that there was a Captain George Biden who was a captain in the East India Tea Company in India,” he added.

Biden turned to Modi and quipped, “That’s hard for an Irishman to admit.”

He stressed that he shouldn’t be “so casual with you all. I hope you understand the humour in it.”

“The end result was he apparently stayed and married an Indian woman and I’ve never been able to track it down, so the whole purpose of this meeting is for him to help me figure out,” he told.

Biden smiled and there was laughter from people in the room.

Taking part in the banter, Modi said that he has brought some documents to solve Biden’s genealogy.

In their meeting, Modi praised Biden for sowing seeds to allow Indo-US relations to expand, and Biden said the relationship between the world’s two largest democracies was “destined to be stronger, closer and tighter,” to the benefit of the whole world.

This is the first meeting between the two leaders since Biden assumed office as US President in January this year.