Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in New York in the early afternoon of June 20 on his first state visit to the United States. The Prime Minister is scheduled to lead the International Day of Yoga at the United Nations on Wednesday before flying to Washington DC for the core of his state visit.
“Landed in New York City. Looking forward to the programmes here including interaction with thought leaders and the Yoga Day programme tomorrow, 21st June,” Mr. Modi tweeted.
Mr. Modi was received in New York by India’s Ambassador to the U.S., Taranjit Singh Sandhu and India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ruchira Kamboj.
Preparations under way
Meanwhile, in Washington, preparations for the visit were under way, with officials on both sides racing towards finalising a joint statement from the bilateral meetings that are scheduled for Thursday.
“We’re hosting India for an official state visit to put our cooperation on an inexorable trajectory as we support India’s emergence as a great power that will be central to ensuring U.S. interests in the coming decades,” John Kirby, who heads strategic communications for President Joe Biden’s National Security Council, said at a press briefing.
It is the third state visit of the Biden administration, which hosted French President Emmanuel Macron and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.
Expected over the next few days are deliverables in global health cooperation, the fight against climate change, defence cooperation, emerging technology and space and in the area of people to people exchanges.
The tangible outcomes of the visit are centred around the Initiative for Critical and Emerging Technologies (ICET), launched by the National Security Advisers of both countries in early 2023, to enhance and provide a framework for defence-industrial cooperation between India and the U.S.
A significant number of deliverables is expected from Mr. Modi’s visit, including an agreement between General Electric (GE) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the co-development and co-production of GE 414 jet engines in India, to fit the Indian Air Force’s Tejas Mk-2 fighter jets. Also expected is the sale, to India, of 31 armed Predator MQ-9 Reaper drones at a price of over $3 billion.
To coincide with Mr. Modi’s visit, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Pentagon, along with the Ministry of Defence, is conducting an event in Washington, INDUS -X, to bring together actors in the defence and emerging technology space, to create some momentum for some of the programmes under the ICET.
India’s increasing commitment to playing an international role in the Quad (a grouping of India, the U.S., Australia and Japan), Mr. Kirby said on Tuesday, signified New Delhi’s growing willingness to join the U.S. in advancing a vision of a free and rules-based global order.
However, the Biden administration is being careful not to tie this visit to its position on China. Asked if Mr. Modi was being invited to the White House as a move to counter China, Mr. Kirby was quick to say, “No.”
More sensitive topics, on which the Indian and U.S. governments do not see eye to eye are likely to come up during Mr. Modi’s time in Washington. Ukraine is one such topic and the Modi government’s human rights track record, the second, according to Mr. Kirby.
There is “no question” that the war in Ukraine would come up during the state visit, Mr. Kirby said, reiterating that the U.S. welcomed third party peacemakers between Russia and Ukraine.
For the Biden administration, any viable solution would need to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty along its recognised international borders, and would need to at least start with a discussion of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s own 10-point plan for peace which he announced in November 2022.
On India’s purchases of Russian oil, Mr. Kriby reiterated America’s careful line – that it was India’s decision but the U.S. hoped India would buy within the G-7 oil price cap of $60 per barrel.
Mr. Kirby also indicated that Mr. Biden would discuss human rights in India with Mr. Modi.
“President Biden has never shied away from raising concerns over human rights. And he’s not going to start shying away from it this week,” he said.
Mr. Modi is due to arrive in Washington on Wednesday and will visit the National Science Foundation with U.S. First Lady Jill Biden in the early afternoon, where they are scheduled to participate in a skilling programme and hold a moderated conversation with Indian and American students.