On the sidelines of the G20 Summit, the visiting US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held nearly an hour long meeting on Friday at the PM’s residence in New Delhi. Following the closed-door meeting, a 29-point joint statement was issued. The White House released a statement confirming the participation of key US officials, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. On the Indian side, attendees included External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
The joint statement said Modi reaffirmed the close and enduring partnership between India and the United States. The two leaders pledged to cooperate on a range of areas, from space defence to semiconductor supply chains and quantum computing, according to the statement.
Big Push for Space Cooperation
Taking A step forward from the last meeting of their leaders, India and the US said the two countries were making efforts towards the establishment of a working group on greater collaboration in space-related commerce.
“Having set a course to reach new frontiers across all sectors of space cooperation, the leaders welcomed efforts towards establishment of a Working Group for commercial space collaboration under the existing India-US Civil Space Joint Working Group,” the joint statement said.
Enhanced Planetary Defence Coordination
The two countries also announced their intention to work together on planetary defence.
“India and the United States also intend to increase coordination on planetary defence to protect planet Earth and space assets from the impact of asteroids and near-Earth objects, including US support for India’s participation in asteroid detection and tracking via the Minor Planet Center,” the joint statement said.
Biden Welcomes India’s Purchase of MQ-9B Drones
India has submitted a procurement request for 31 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) from General Atomics, consisting of 16 Sky Guardian and 15 Sea Guardian models and associated equipment. This acquisition is aimed at bolstering the intelligence capabilities of the Indian Armed Forces across various domains, particularly in Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations. President Biden expressed his approval and welcomed this initiative by the Indian Defence Ministry.
“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 (ISR) capabilities of India’s armed forces across all domains,” the statement stated.
Accelerate Defence Industry Cooperation
Prime Minister Modi and President Biden reaffirmed their commitment to deepen and diversify the India-US Major Defence Partnership through expanded cooperation in new and emerging domains such as space and AI, and accelerated defence industrial collaboration.
The leaders welcomed completion of the Congressional Notification process on 29 August 2023 and the commencement of negotiations for a commercial agreement between GE Aerospace and Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) to manufacture GE F-414 jet engines in India, and recommitted to work collaboratively and expeditiously to support the advancement of this unprecedented co-production and technology transfer proposal, according to the statement.
The leaders applauded the conclusion of a second Master Ship Repair Agreement, with the most recent agreement signed by the US Navy and Mazgaon Dock Shipbuilders, Ltd., in August 2023. Both sides recommitted to advancing India’s emergence as a hub for the maintenance and repair of forward-deployed US Navy assets and other aircraft and vessels. The leaders also welcomed further commitments from US industry to invest more in India’s maintenance, repair, and overhaul capabilities and facilities for aircraft.
Strengthen Cooperation in the Field of Quantum, Biotechnology, Artificial Intelligence and Technology Value Chain
The United States reaffirmed its commitment to cooperate with India in the quantum field both bilaterally and through the Quantum Entanglement Exchange Platform, and welcomed the participation of India’s Bose National Center for Basic Science as a member of the Quantum Economy Development Alliance.
The United States and India also engage in scientific and technological research cooperation to promote innovation in biotechnology and biomanufacturing, and are committed to building a resilient technology value chain and defence industry ecosystem. The two leaders reiterated their commitment that their governments will drive policy and regulatory changes to promote greater opportunities for technology sharing, co-development and co-production between Indian and US industry, government and academic institutions.
The US and India have also established an India-US university alliance, expanded cooperation in emerging fields such as space and artificial intelligence, and accelerated defence industry cooperation.
Building A Resilient Semiconductor Supply Chain
Biden and Modi also reiterated their support for a resilient global semiconductor supply chain, noting a multi-year plan by US-based Microchip Technology, Inc. to invest about $300 million to expand its research and development in India; Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has announced an investment of US$400 million in India over the next five years to expand its research, development and engineering operations in India.
Strengthen cooperation in the Field of Telecommunications
Biden and Modi further confirmed the establishment of two joint working groups, which focus on cooperation in the field of Open RAN (Open Radio Access Network) and the research and development of 5G/6G technology. A US open RAN manufacturer will conduct a 5G open RAN pilot with a leading Indian telecom operator before deploying it in the field. The two leaders continued to look forward to Indian companies’ participation in the US Rip and Replace Program.
Develop Nuclear Energy Technology in Collaborative Mode
On the nuclear side, the two countries emphasised the importance of expanding nuclear energy to intensify the transition to cleaner energy sources because of climate change considerations. The two leaders “welcomed intensified consultations between the relevant entities on both sides to expand opportunities for facilitating India-US collaboration in nuclear energy, including in development of next generation small modular reactor technologies in collaborative mode”. The US also reaffirmed its support for India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and said it would continue to talk to others to achieve this goal.
Reaffirm the importance of the Quad
In their statement, Modi and Biden reiterated the significance of the Quad in upholding an Indo-Pacific region that is “free, open, inclusive, and resilient.” India also expressed its approval of the US taking on a co-leadership role in the Indo-Pacific Maritime Initiative, a critical component that fosters trade connectivity and maritime transportation.
The Chinese Communist Party has frequently voiced its objections, contending that the Quad, comprised of the United States, Japan, Australia, and India, resembles an Asian equivalent of NATO. Beijing views the partnership as essentially disposed unfavorably to its own interests.
While the United States and India lack an official treaty alliance, there is an intense desire within the United States for India to serve as a strategic counterbalance to China, leading to enhanced military collaboration between the two nations. When addressing reporters before the meeting, Sullivan emphasized that the gathering of US and Indian leaders would showcase “the extensive nature of our partnership.”