Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Tokyo Quad leaders’ meeting. This was their second bilateral meeting in less than a month, as the two leaders had met virtually on April 11 prior to the India-U.S. 2+2 Defence and Foreign Ministries dialogue. The two nations announced a technology cooperation and investment effort with the United States Agency for International Development. Mr. Biden, reiterating a position he has held for years, stated that he would want to make the U.S.-India relationship “among the closest” in the world.
Ahead of the bilateral meeting, which was hosted at the official house of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, Mr. Modi referred to the India-United States partnership as a “partnership of trust.”
“Our shared values and common interests in many areas, including security, have strengthened the bonds of this trust,” he said, adding that bilateral trade and investment were expanding but “significantly below” their potential, according to an English translation of Mr. Modi’s remarks, which were delivered primarily in Hindi.
Mr. Biden stated, “Mr. Prime Minister, there is so much that our countries can and will do together, and I am determined to making the U.S.-India relationship one of the closest on Earth.”
Mr. Biden again mentioned the notion that “democracies deliver.” The President and his administration have often defined the current state of the world as a war between democracies and autocracies.
“During our April video call, you emphasised the necessity for democracies to deliver.
I believe that this is what we are doing today.
During his opening remarks, he added to Mr. Modi, “We’re discussing how to deliver through the Quad as well as the U.S.-India partnership.”
The two countries announced an agreement allowing the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to enhance investment support in India for SME development, healthcare, renewable energy, and infrastructure, among other sectors.
Mr. Modi stated at the start of the meeting, “I am confident that with the India-U.S. Investment Incentive Agreement, we will see meaningful movement in the direction of investment.”
India and the United States also formed the Endeavor on Crucial Emerging Technologies (iCET), an initiative to cooperate on essential and emerging technologies led by the two National Security Councils. The Indian report included quantum computing, artificial intelligence (AI), 5G/6G, biotechnology, semiconductors, and space as examples.
The United States announced in its readout that it will collaborate with six of India’s Technology Innovation Hubs to fund at least 25 joint research projects this year in areas such as artificial intelligence, data, health, climate, and agriculture.
Significantly, Mr. Modi stated that India and the United States “share the same perspective” over the Indo-Pacific area, in contrast to their positions regarding the Ukraine-Russia front. The U.S. release stated that the “leaders welcomed the formation of the Indo-Pacific alliance for maritime domain awareness.”
Monday’s inauguration of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), the Biden administration’s economic cooperation framework for the region, was greeted favourably by both parties. The Indian report stressed the framework’s adaptability and consideration of “respective national situations.”
The United States emphasises Ukraine while India remains silent
The U.S. readout of the meeting stated that Mr. Biden condemned Russia’s “unjustifiable war” and that the two leaders “discussed how to cooperate to manage disruptions caused by the war in Ukraine, particularly the rise in energy and food prices, in order to protect their respective citizens and the global community”.
The Russian-Ukrainian war was absent from the Indian report. Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, the two countries have attempted to manage their differences in the crisis, namely India’s discounted energy purchases from Russia and its failure to denounce Russia’s aggression, even at the United Nations.
The bilateral relationship was supported by democratic values, according to both countries’ statements. Additionally, the U.S. statement mentioned “tolerance” and “equal opportunity for all Americans.”
The countries also discussed strengthening the Major Defense Partnership and extending research collaboration under the Vaccine Acceleration Program (VAP) through 2027. According to the U.S. statement, the presidents discussed increasing cooperation to cover antibiotic resistance and noncommunicable disorders including diabetes and cancer.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra, and Additional Secretary Vani Rao comprised Mr. Modi’s team.
Mr. Biden’s group included U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, DFC chief Scott Nathan, White House Indo-Pacific lead Kurt Campbell and members of his team, and DFC chief Scott Nathan.
Dialogues with Albanese and Kishida
On Tuesday, Mr. Modi met separately with Australia’s new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. In his chat with Mr. Kishida, who had visited India in March 2022, the prime minister reiterated collaboration in a number of sectors, including the bullet train project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, for which a third loan instalment is imminent. Mr. Modi and Mr. Kishida also discussed the fulfilment of a commitment to facilitate five trillion yen in public and private investment from Japan to India over the next five years.
Mr. Modi invited Mr. Albanese to India during discussions with the Australian prime minister, who was only sworn in on Monday after winning the national election over the weekend. “Both leaders reviewed the multifaceted cooperation under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, including trade & investment, defence manufacturing, renewable energy including green hydrogen, education, science & technology, agricultural research, sports, and people-to-people ties,” according to a MEA statement about the meeting.
According to Mr. Kwatra, who addressed the press after the meetings, India’s “complete” answer to COVID-19 was well received at the Quad and certain bilateral sessions. The Foreign Secretary was responding to a reporter’s inquiry as to whether Vice President Biden had told Prime Minister Modi that India’s handling of COVID-19 was superior than China, as reported by several Indian media outlets. The Hindu has contacted the White House for clarification about these stories.