Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US this month will set new benchmarks for bilateral ties, according to the Pentagon. Big announcements related to defence industrial cooperation and boosting India’s indigenous military base are expected to be made during the meeting, it added.
PM Modi’s first state visit to the US at the invitation of President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will commence on June 22. During the four-day visit, the US President and the First Lady will host a state dinner for the Prime Minister, reported news agency PTI.
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner during a panel discussion at the Centre for New American Security on Thursday said, “When Prime Minister Modi comes here to Washington for a State Visit later in the month, I think it will be a historic visit setting new benchmarks for the relationship. I think it (the visit) will be looked back upon similar to how the Japan Two plus Two earlier this year was a pivotal moment in the relationship. People will be looking back on this visit by Prime Minister Modi as a real springboard for the US-India relationship.”
He said that the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s recent visit to India was to advance a number of bilateral issues and prepare the ground for PM Modi’s visit to Washington by finalising some agreements and initiatives that both the nations are working on. PTI quoted him as saying, “Among the priorities are clear strategic alignment around the question of co-development and co-production between the United States and India on the defence side. This is a priority for Prime Minister Modi to strengthen India’s indigenous defence industrial base, as well as advancing the military modernisation.”
In order to strengthen the technological cooperation between the US and India, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and NSA Ajit Doval launched an initiative for critical and emerging technology (iCET) in January. There is a very strong defence component of the iCET that both nations are looking to advance, reported PTI.
Ratner further said, “I know there have been efforts at this in the past. Sometimes there’s scepticism around, is it going to be real this time? And my answer is, I think, all signs are pointing toward yes, it’s going to be real and we’re going to have some really big, historic, exciting announcements out of the prime minister’s visit in terms of particular projects around defence industrial cooperation.”
He continued, “We are also enhancing our operational coordination in a number of different places. A lot of focus on the Indian Ocean, a lot of focus on the undersea domain, as well as new domains, space and cyber and new efforts around information sharing. If you look at the development of the US-India relationship, it’s really unbelievable how far the relationship has moved over the last couple of decades. That’s true now more than ever.”
Calling PM Modi’s US visit ‘historic,’ Ratner explained that the US-India defence cooperation will be bolstered with PM Modi’s Washington trip and it will further augment security in the Indo-Pacific.
A strong US-India partnership is a critical ingredient to realising that vision. That’s what both sides have understood: from India’s perspective and from the US perspective, that a closer partnership will be essential to manifesting that vision.”