Biden Prepares to Sell India’s Modi on High-Tech Defense, Cooperation Against China

US President Joe Biden (L) talks with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the opening

The White House is planning to wine-and-vegetarian-dine Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Washington this week, in the hopes that Modi will agree to closer cooperation on defense and a coordinated strategy against Chinese aggression.

The administration has reportedly enlisted plant-based chef Nina Curtis of California to develop the menu for dinner with the vegetarian Indian prime minister during his state visit on Thursday. Grammy-winning violinist and conductor Joshua Bell has been asked to provide music for the event.

Modi said on Monday that Americans were enthusiastic about his visit, and the feeling was mutual.

“People from all walks of life including Members of Congress, thought leaders and others have been sharing their enthusiasm on my upcoming USA visit. I thank them for their kind words. Such diverse support underlines the depth of the India-USA relationship,” he said on Twitter.

U.S .President Joe Biden (2nd L) speaks with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) during a quad meeting attended by Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Hiroshima on May 20, 2023. (JONATHAN ERNST/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

“I am confident my visit to the US will reinforce our ties based on shared values of democracy, diversity and freedom. Together we stand stronger in meeting the shared global challenge,” Modi said in a statement on Tuesday morning as he departed for the United States.

Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar noted that on Thursday afternoon, Modi will become the first Indian prime minister, and only the third foreign leader outside of Israel, to address the U.S. Congress twice.

Modi’s agenda includes signing a $3 billion deal to purchase 31 long-range MQ-9B Sea and Sky Guardian drones from General Atomics Aeronautical. The drones can operate for over 40 hours in all weather conditions to perform reconnaissance or strike missions, with applications ranging from border security to search and rescue operations.

Another important deal is expected to involve cooperation between General Electric (GE) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to manufacture engines for India’s next-generation Tejas Mark II fighter jet, which should begin production by 2028. Pending approval by Congress, GE will transfer the technology needed for India to produce at least 500 powerful engines for the Tejas Mark II and several variants.

15 November 2022, Indonesia, Nusa Dua: Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, and Joe Biden, President of the United States of America USA, show the peace sign with their hands at the G20 summit after the second working session. (Kay Nietfeld/picture alliance via Getty Images)

A senior Indian official told the Hindustan Times that Modi plans to discuss “cooperation in semiconductors, cyberspace, aerospace, strategic infrastructure and communication, commercial space projects, quantum computing and the use of artificial intelligence” during his visit to the United States. 

Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said Modi will discuss methods of merging the “defense industrial ecosystems” of India and the United States.

“If you look at the complete matrix of the India-U.S. defense partnership, it is very robust, very dynamic. It has all the significant elements that make it so important,” Kwatra said on Tuesday.

“We conduct a large number of bilateral military exercises – both bilateral and also regional in nature. Armed forces have staff-to-staff engagement. India also deploys U.S. equipment and platforms,” he noted.


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