Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in New Delhi on Tuesday (ANI)

Prime Minister Modi will visit the US from June 21 to 24, where President Joe Biden will host him at the White House. This will be Modi’s first state visit to the US as prime minister. What is on the table in this meeting between two biggest democracies?

Our Bureau
Washington DC/New Delhi

On the invitation of US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in the US next week. All eyes are now on the next chapter in the bilateral relations between the two countries and the message that will be sent out of Washington.

Indian Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu on Wednesday said that during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming state visit to the US, the “next level of the partnership will be visible”. “You will see the personal chemistry reflected in a number of interactions. In fact, this will show perhaps the maximum interaction between Prime Minister Modi and the President of the United States.”

As cabinet members and senior officials are looking into the nuts and bolts of the state visit’s “outcomes” and are making sure New Delhi and Washington are moving in the right direction, Sandhu highlighted the significance of India-US partnership in the global context in various spheres such as trade, defense and strategic cooperation, technology, higher education and clean energy.

“The underlying aspect is going to be much more strategic understanding,” Sandhu asserted.

Experts stress on how Washington is working to deepen ties with the world’s largest democracy, forging military and industrial links with India as a key counterweight to China’s dominance, even as the two democracies differ on how to deal with Russia’s Ukraine invasion. And this visit would further nail in stronger ties as the United States looks to blunt China’s growing assertiveness in the region. The relationship between the two democracies and their ties have steadily transformed and elevated into a strategic technology partnership.

PM Modi’s trip to the US is being billed as a milestone in relations between the two democracies and the Indian envoy signals that the visit next week will be historic.

“This is indeed a historic and path-breaking visit. I use these terminologies by fully looking into them. You will see both on the substantive side and on the ceremonial side, that it will be historic,” Sandhu added.

Meanwhile, US National Security Advisor (NSA) Jake Sullivan recently said that “As we look ahead to the state visit that PM Modi will be embarking upon in Washington next week, a number of the deliverables at that visit are not just bullet points on a page, they are fundamentally designed to remove obstacles in defense and high-tech trades and in taking away obstacles that have stood in the way of better collaboration among our scientists and researchers.”

Top lawmakers in the United States have invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address the US Congress when he visits Washington, a rare opportunity granted only to the country’s closest allies. “PM Modi will be the first leader in independent India to address the US Congress twice…In my conversations with many of the congressmen and senators, I can certainly tell you that there is a lot of excitement among them,” Taranjit Singh Sandhu said. He added, “…They want to hear about the India story and they want to hear about the Prime Minister’s vision and his thinking.”

Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives announced the invitation in a letter to Modi on Friday, saying that the speech on June 22 would celebrate the “enduring friendship” between the two countries.

Meanwhile, US Representative Richard McCormick, a Republican lawmaker, on Wednesday (local time) stressed on having ties between the United States (US) and India economically, militarily and strategically. He emphasized that lawmakers whether they are Democrats or Republicans need to pay more attention to India as a “future partner going forward”.

On reports of the US pushing a sign a big-arms drone deal during the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said, “I think the more we link our countries together, both strategically, economically, militarily, the better. If you look at the threats in the region, if you look at India’s strategic location next to China, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, with all the problems that we have in that part of the world right now, we need a strong partner, somebody that we can link ourselves to” can be passed down to further generations.

US Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee said the US looks forward to PM Modi’s upcoming address to the US Congress.

“The Congress will look forward to the state address that he will make in the United States Congress. That will be both houses of Congress. That’s a very important position to be in. We will be attentive,” Lee said while speaking to ANI on PM Modi’s upcoming US visit.

Amid preparations for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, the Defense Ministry on Thursday approved the deal for acquiring the Predator (MQ-9 Reaper) drones from America for which the final decision would be taken by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

The Indian Navy is the lead agency for the deal in which 15 drones will be going to the maritime force for surveillance operations in its area of responsibility. The three services also have plans of going in for same type of medium altitude and long endurance drones from indigenous sources.

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, Congressman from Georgia, Drew Ferguson, has emphasized that the India-US ties are important for “peace, prosperity and stability around the globe, especially in the Indo-Pacific region.

“The India-US partnership is crucial for fostering peace, prosperity and stability around the globe, especially in the Indo-Pacific region — Rep. Drew Ferguson,” read a post on the official Twitter handle of the Indian embassy in the US.

“I wanted to take a moment to recognize Prime Minister Modi’s upcoming visit to Washington, DC. The relationship between the United States and India is strategic and global. It’s a partnership guided by strong political will on both sides. It’s built on the shared values of democracy, freedom, and respect for the real with law,” the Congressman said in his short video address.

He added, “This partnership is crucial for fostering peace, prosperity and stability around the globe, especially in the Indo-Pacific region. In 2022, India celebrated 75 years of independence and marked the anniversary of the United States-India diplomatic relations.”

Ferguson stated further that the India-US partnership has made significant progress in the last few years and New Delhi continues to be a strategic trading partner for the latter.

“As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade policy, I look forward to continuing to work on growing this important global partnership. Thank you to Prime Minister Modi for your continued leadership, and I hope you have a productive visit,” the Congressman stated in his video address.

Many political leaders in the US had earlier voiced their excitement around PM Modi’s state visit while lauding the burgeoning bilateral ties between the two countries.

Dr Bharat Barai, a popular community leader and organizer of Prime Minister Modi’s event at the Ronald Reagan Center, was effusive in his praise for the latter, calling him the “most popular public figure and leader in the world, not just in India”.

“PM Modi is the most popular public figure, and leader in the world, not just in India. The Prime Minister is extremely popular. He’s perceived as a visionary leader for India who is working tirelessly for the growth of India,” Barai said earlier.

US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said Prime Minister Modi’s upcoming visit to the US will serve as an opportunity to enhance the commercial and strategic technology partnerships between the two nations. She specifically mentioned sectors such as defense, semiconductors, and clean energy as areas of focus.

Globally, as a head of government, PM Modi is second only after Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to address a joint House of the US Congress more than once. The Israeli PM has done it thrice.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries had earlier said in a message to PM Modi, “During your address, you will have the opportunity to share your vision for India’s future and speak to the global challenges both our countries face.”

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