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Modi Magic In The US; Big Deals Signed

Biden Says US & India Are ‘Great Powers’;  India To Get Jet Engines, Armed Drones, Tech Collaboration

Washington: President Joe Biden on Thursday welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the White House, underscoring the need for the two countries to work together as “two great nations, two great friends and two great powers” to tackle the challenges facing the world and to define the course of the century.

Prime Minister Modi called the relationship between the two countries “instrumental in enhancing the strength of the whole world” at a time when the global order is taking a new shape.

Modi was received by Biden and First Lady Jill Biden at a ceremonial welcome with a 19-gun salute on the South Lawn of the White House, in the presence of an estimated 7,000 Indian-Americans who chanted “Modi, Modi” several times, and occasionally “USA, USA”.

The two leaders spoke again before the start of their bilateral meeting on the same theme of cooperation and democratic values.

Vice-President Kamala Harris, her husband and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti were the US officials who attended the event.

On the India side, the attendees included External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra and the Indian Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu.

The reception marked the start of what is clearly going to be an “India Day” in the US capital. Biden and Modi left the reception for meetings with their respective delegations, which would be followed by a news conference where the two leaders will deliver remarks and take questions.

Later in the afternoon, Prime Minister Modi addressed a joint session of the US Congress, for the second time. His first address was in 2016, at the invitation of the leaders of both the Democratic and Republican Congress leaders.


In the evening, Modi and his delegation hosted at a state dinner by Biden and the First Lady, which will be the first for an Indian leader in 15 years; then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the last to be hosted at a state dinner in 2009 by then President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

At the White House reception, Biden spoke about the ongoing cooperation between India and the US as part of the Quad, which they form with Japan and Australia, its importance for the Indo-Pacific, and of working together on issues from healthcare and climate change to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“As democracies, we can tap into the talents of all our people,” Biden said, reflecting US’ concern over the challenges to democracy.

Modi also spoke about democracy being the central value system to both the countries. Institutions of both India and the US “are based on democratic values, the constitutions of both countries begin with the following three words – “we the people” – and both “countries take pride in diversity”, saying “both of us believe in the fundamental principles in the interest of all”.

He added: “The world order is taking a new shape this time. The friendship between India and the US will be instrumental in enhancing the strength of the whole world.”


In a major breakthrough in defence cooperation, the US has cleared the joint production of GE’s F 414 jet engines in India giving a “new” direction to ties between the two countries, a senior US White House official told reporters.

India has also announced the purchase of MQ 9B armed Sea Guardians, marking the end of protracted negotiations that lasted almost seven years. “The nature, the depth and breadth of our deliverables for this is unprecedented,” said one of the officials who previewed the meeting for reporters.

“I think the Indians, to be honest, have been surprised and thrilled by the steps that we’ve been able to take to remove bureaucratic roadblocks from achieving this goal. So I think we fully recognise that it’s going to be necessary to follow through,” one of the senior administration officials said.

India will use these jet engines for its second generation of Tejas fighter jets. The current aircraft use GE’s F404 engines, which are assembled in the India. The F414s will be co-produced in India by GE with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). These engines are being used by US American F/A-18 Super Hornets.

The MQ-9 Sea Guardian drones by General Atomics have been on India’s wishlist for years and the Indian Navy has since 2020 been using two MQ-9A drones in a company-owned and company-operated lease agreement since 2020.

The joint statement that will be issued by the two sides is also likely to include the reinstatement of preferential trading benefits for Indian exports to the US under a scheme called the Generalized System of Preferences, which was suspended by the Trump administration in 2019, after it could not extract market access concessions from India. Under this scheme, certain Indian goods enter the US without tariff and at the time of suspension these US imports from India were worth over $6 billion.

The two sides were expected to announce a slew of joint initiatives and agreements after Biden’s meeting with Modi Thursday morning, in a new spirit of cooperation between the two sides that was described by officials who were part of the negotiations as “mature”.

The two leaders are also expected to announce a master ship repair agreement in which US navy ships will go for repairs to Indian shipyards.

The US is looking to wean India from Russia military supplies. “India is actively engaged in diversifying away from Russian military equipment … It is not just the United States that is engaged in that effort of diversification. It’s our allies and partners in France, in Great Britain and Israel and elsewhere that are actively supporting efforts to secure India’s defence capabilities more generally,” one of the senior administration officials said.

A slew of collaborations in the field of technology have also been agreed upon, including strengthening critical minerals supply chains, advancing telecommunication capabilities and AI.

Other agreements will space. NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will work together on human spaceflight.

Prime Minister Modi had a private dinner with President Joe Biden at the White House on Wednesday night, ahead of their meetings on Thursday. Modi was accompanied by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra.

The two leaders addressed a news conference. The US officials also said that Biden also raised human rights, democracy and press freedom with Modi but with “respect” and as a friend.

The Prime Minister was to address a joint session of US Congress later Thursday, which will be his second time.

He was then joining President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for a state dinner, which is expected to be attended by the who’s who of the Indian American community. Modi Magic In The US; Big Deals Signed

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