PM Modi, President Biden welcome progress in defence ties

Joint statement highlights deals on jet engines, armed drones and WTO dispute settlement; PM Modi says India-U.S. friendship will continue to play a great role in furthering global good

Updated - September 09, 2023 11:28 am IST

Published - September 08, 2023 10:19 pm IST - NEW DELHI

U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi meet at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg in New Delhi on September 8, 2023. Photo: X/@PMOIndia via ANI

U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi meet at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg in New Delhi on September 8, 2023. Photo: X/@PMOIndia via ANI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday welcomed the completion of the notification process in the U.S. Congress on August 29 for a commercial agreement between General Electric Aerospace and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) to manufacture GE F-414 jet engines in India and the commencement of the negotiations. The leaders lauded the settlement of the seventh and last outstanding World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute between the two countries.

Mr. Biden arrived in New Delhi in the evening to attend the G-20 Summit and went straight to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official residence for a bilateral meeting. The summit will be held on Saturday and Sunday.

A joint statement issued after the bilateral talks said: “President Biden welcomed the issuance of a Letter of Request from the Ministry of Defence of India to procure 31 General Atomics MQ-9B (16 Sky Guardian and 15 Sea Guardian) remotely piloted aircraft and their associated equipment, which will enhance the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of India’s armed forces across all domains.”

G-20 Summit Delhi updates | September 8

‘Productive meeting’

“Happy to have welcomed U.S. President Joe Biden to 7 Lok Kalyan Marg. Our meeting was very productive. We were able to discuss numerous topics which will further economic and people-to-people linkages between India and USA. The friendship between our nations will continue to play a great role in furthering global good,” Mr. Modi said on the social media platform ‘X’.

Mr. Biden “lauded” India’s G-20 presidency for demonstrating how the G-20 as a forum is delivering important outcomes, the joint statement noted.

The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the G-20 and expressed confidence that the outcomes of the G-20 Leaders’ Summit will advance the shared goals of accelerating sustainable development, bolstering multilateral cooperation, and building global consensus around inclusive economic policies... including “fundamentally reshaping and scaling up multilateral development banks”.

G-20 Summit Delhi updates | September 9

Following Larsen & Toubro (L&T), which has concluded a second Master Ship Repair Agreement with the U.S. Navy to repair its warships and has so far undertaken three such repairs, Mazagaon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd, Mumbai has concluded a similar agreement in August 2023. Both sides recommitted to advancing India’s emergence as a hub for the maintenance and repair of forward-deployed U.S. Navy assets and other aircraft and vessels, the joint statement said. “The leaders also welcomed further commitments from U.S. industry to invest more in India’s maintenance, repair, and overhaul capabilities and facilities for aircraft,” it said.

On space cooperation, the leaders welcomed efforts towards establishment of a working group for commercial space collaboration under the existing India-U.S. Civil Space Joint Working Group. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have “commenced discussions on modalities, capacity building, and training for mounting a joint effort to the International Space Station in 2024, and are continuing efforts to finalise a strategic framework for human space flight cooperation by the end of 2023,” the statement said.

U.S. President Joe Biden being received by Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation General (retd.) V.K. Singh at the Delhi airport on September 8, 2023. Photo: PIB via ANI

U.S. President Joe Biden being received by Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation General (retd.) V.K. Singh at the Delhi airport on September 8, 2023. Photo: PIB via ANI

Mr. Biden arrived in New Delhi in the evening, in his maiden visit to India as President. As Mr. Biden disembarked from Air Force One, Gen V. K. Singh (retd), the Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways and Civil Aviation, received him. This was followed by a small cultural performance.

Earlier, interacting with the accompanying U.S. media team aboard Air Force One, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, responding to questions on press access, said, “This meeting will be taking place at the Prime Minister’s residence. So, it is unusual in that respect. This is not your typical bilateral visit to India with meetings taking place in the Prime Minister’s office. This is the host of the G-20 hosting a significant number of leaders, doing so in his home, and he has set out the protocols.”

Mr. Biden is expected to visit India again in January-end. As reported by The Hindu earlier, efforts are on by India to have the three leaders of Quad grouping [comprising Australia, Japan, the U.S. and India] as chief guests for the Republic Day parade on January 26. Discussions are under way on it, officials said. If that doesn’t work out, plan is to invite Mr. Biden alone as chief guest for the parade.

Earlier, interacting with the accompanying U.S. media team aboard Air Force One, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, responding to questions on press access, said, “This meeting will be taking place at the Prime Minister’s residence. So, it is unusual in that respect. This is not your typical bilateral visit to India with meetings taking place in the Prime Minister’s office. This is the host of the G-20 hosting a significant number of leaders, doing so in his home, and he has set out the protocols.”

Mr. Biden is expected to visit India again in January-end. As reported by The Hindu earlier, efforts are on by India to have the three leaders of Quad grouping [comprising Australia, Japan, the U.S. and India] as chief guests for the Republic Day parade on January 26. Discussions are under way on it, officials said. If it doesn’t work out, plan is to invite Mr. Biden alone for the parade.

In June this year, in an “unprecedented” development the two countries settled six of the outstanding bilateral trade disputes in the WTO. Mr. Biden has been keen to see India join the Indo-Pacific Economic Forum’s “Trade” pillar launched in May 2022, which India has so far stayed away from, as reported earlier.

On high technology cooperation, the statement said that U.S. and India intend to undertake a midterm review of the Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) in September 2023 to continue to drive momentum toward the next annual iCET review, co-led by the National Security Advisors of both countries, in early 2024, the statement added.

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