Joe Biden and Narendra Modi strengthen US-India ties with defense and technology deals
New Delhi : In a historic state visit, President Joe Biden warmly welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the White House on Thursday. The leaders engaged in bilateral talks and unveiled a series of defense and technology agreements, including the procurement of American spy drones.
The Oval Office meeting was followed by a rare joint news conference, during which President Biden expressed his belief that the partnership between the United States and India was at its strongest and most dynamic point in history. Prime Minister Modi echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the emergence of a new chapter in the strategic relationship between the two nations.
As part of his visit, Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to address Congress, becoming one of the few leaders to have the privilege of speaking to both the House and Senate on multiple occasions. A state banquet at the White House will conclude the visit, attended by prominent Indian Americans.
Earlier, during a grand welcome ceremony, Prime Minister Modi described it as a great honor for the 1.4 billion people of India. Speaking through a translator, he expressed the hope that the flags of India and the United States would continue to soar higher and conveyed his blessings to America.
Modi's visit marks only the third state visit to the US by a foreign leader since President Biden assumed office, underscoring the significance of the occasion. The agreements signed by the leaders include India's commitment to purchase armed MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones from US defense contractor General Atomics. Additionally, memory chipmaker Micron will establish a $2.75 billion semiconductor assembly and test facility in India, with $800 million in investment from the US company.
A senior US official emphasized the depth and breadth of the US-India partnership, which has been strengthened over several years with bipartisan support. Another notable agreement involves General Electric co-producing fighter jet engines in India, a groundbreaking initiative praised by the Biden administration.
These defense and technology agreements, coupled with enhanced cooperation in the space sector, reflect Washington's proactive efforts to align New Delhi with its strategic objectives, particularly in countering China. President Biden has prioritized bolstering defense and security cooperation with India since assuming office, including reviving the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, known as the "Quad," comprising India, Japan, Australia, and the United States.
While India maintains a non-aligned foreign policy, recent border tensions with China have prompted closer ties with the United States. The disputed border, stretching nearly 3,500 kilometers, experienced a violent clash between Chinese and Indian troops in the Galwan Valley in May 2020.
A US defense official affirmed that the announced security deals would enhance interoperability between the two countries' militaries. When questioned about India's role in the event of a conflict over Taiwan, the senior US official declined to provide specifics but highlighted the deepening maritime cooperation and joint scenario development between the two nations.
Critics have raised concerns about granting Prime Minister Modi a state visit due to alleged threats to Indian democracy, including restrictions on freedom of expression and violence against minority Muslims and Christians. In response, the senior US official emphasized President Biden's approach to discussions on human rights with humility and respect, stating that there would be no lecturing or scolding. President Biden affirmed that he had engaged in a constructive dialogue with Prime Minister Modi on democratic values shared by both countries.
Prime Minister Modi concluded by declaring that democracy was ingrained in the fabric of India and a way of life for its people, further solidifying the commitment to shared democratic principles between the two nations.