National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met with his counterpart in the U.S. Jake Sullivan and other senior officials in Washington on Tuesday for the inaugural Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) dialogue that was announced last year.
The iCET initiative was launched during the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joseph Biden at the Quad meeting in Tokyo last May, and is being run by the National Security Councils of both countries.
The meetings in Washington coincided with U.S. Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland’s visit to Delhi on Tuesday, where she met External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, in interactions that will set the stage for visits by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in March followed by Mr. Biden in September, both for G-20 events.
Mr. Modi and Mr. Biden are also due to meet at the G-7 meeting of developed countries -- where India is a special invitee -- to be held in Hiroshima in May, and at the Quad summit to be held in Sydney, also this summer.
Focus on South Asia
“Good talk on the Indian Subcontinent, the Indo-Pacific and the many convergences in our relationship,” Mr. Jaishankar tweeted.
After holding foreign office consultations with Mr. Kwatra, Ms. Nuland said that the talks had focused on “deepening the U.S.-India strategic relationship in 2023”, adding that the U.S. looked forward to collaborating on global challenges, including at the G-20. Ms. Nuland flew to Delhi from Kathmandu where she met Nepali PM Prachanda and his cabinet members, and will proceed to Colombo from India. It is understood that she discussed India-U.S. cooperation in the region during her meetings.
In a statement issued after the meeting, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that both sides had focussed on regional developments in “South Asia, Indian Ocean Region and the Indo-Pacific”. They “took stock of a number of initiatives and frameworks that reflect common strategic interests” -- including the Quad, I2U2, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and the Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness Initiative -- and also discussed India’s G20 presidency this year.
‘Help India with alternatives’
The MEA did not respond to queries on whether Ms. Nuland, who has been at the forefront of the U.S. response to Russia over the Ukraine conflict, raised the issue during her meetings.
Ms. Nuland had told U.S. lawmakers at a Senate Foreign Relations briefing ahead of her visit that part of her role was to “help India with alternatives” to the “60 years of entanglement” with Russia, referring to India’s military and energy dependency on Russian supplies.
Removing tech transfer barriers
Meanwhile in Washington, Mr. Doval participated with Mr. Sullivan in a special event hosted by the US India Business Council (USIBC) ahead of the iCET’s inaugural meeting on Monday. The iCET is expected to focus on how to remove barriers in technology transfers and co-production in the areas of critical and emerging technologies particularly in telecommunication and semiconductor chip supply chains.
“iCET is about much more than technology cooperation, it’s a platform to accelerate our strategic convergence and policy alignment,” Mr. Sullivan told the USIBC round table, which included U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
“NSA Ajit Doval and Indian Ambassador to U.S. [Taranjit] Sandhu highlighted India’s remarkable capacity for technology development and absorption, and emphasized India’s use of technology not only as an enabler of economic growth but as an instrument of social inclusion,” a statement issued by the USIBC said, ahead of the iCET meeting expected to take place in Washington on Tuesday, which is early morning on Wednesday by Indian Standard Time.