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Biden aide Sullivan heads to India to prep for Modi state visit


By Trevor Hunnicutt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, is headed to India next week for final preparations ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Washington later this month, the White House confirmed on Wednesday.

Washington is working to deepen ties with the world’s largest democracy, forging military and industrial links with the South Asian country as a key counterweight to China’s dominance, even as the two democracies differ on how to deal with Russia’s Ukraine invasion.

A spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council said Sullivan would “meet with Indian officials to discuss deepening collaboration across critical areas of importance between the US and India” ahead of Modi’s June 22 state visit. The statement confirmed an earlier Reuters story.

A senior official told Reuters that Sullivan would look over the state visit’s “outcomes” and make sure “that we’re moving in the right direction.”

Last May, Biden and Modi announced a bilateral “initiative on critical and emerging technology,” dubbed an “iCET,” directing their governments to work together on advanced technology from artificial intelligence (AI) to semiconductor chips and quantum computing, especially in defense.

As part of the initiative, the Biden administration is poised to sign off on a deal that would allow General Electric to produce jet engines powering Indian military aircraft in that country, Reuters reported May 31. The White House has declined to comment on that report.

“I think that we’re moving forward on that in a good way,” the U.S. official said on Wednesday. “We’re going to be notifying that to Congress shortly.”

India, the world’s largest arms importer, depends on Russia for nearly half its military supplies, and has bought fighter jets, tanks, nuclear submarines and an aircraft carrier over the decades.

Washington has been eager to meet more of India’s defense needs and to seek this year Group of 20 (G20) host’s support in putting pressure on Russia for the war in Ukraine.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons and Chizu Nomiyama)

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