PM Modi's US Visit Will Set New Benchmarks for Bilateral Ties, Says Pentagon
His four-day visit, due to start on June 21, will have the US president and the First Lady hosting Modi for a state dinner on June 22.
WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the US this month is expected to set new benchmarks for bilateral ties, even as a few "really big, historic and exciting" announcements on defence cooperation and providing a boost to indigenous military industrial base of India are likely to be made, the Pentagon said.
This will be PM Modi’s first state visit this month to the US at President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden’s invitation. His four-day visit, due to start on June 21, will see the US president and the First Lady hosting Modi for a state dinner on June 22.
While attending a panel discussion at the Center for New American Security on Thursday, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner said, “When Prime Minister Modi comes here to Washington for a State Visit later in the month, I think it will be a historic visit setting new benchmarks for the relationship.”
“People will be looking back on this visit by Prime Minister Modi as a real springboard for the US-India relationship,” he added.
Ratner pointed out that US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had visited India recently for taking forward a number of bilateral issues and preparing the ground for the prime minister's visit to Washington by making final certain agreements and initiatives that the two countries are engaged in.
He said that featured among the priorities are strategic partnerships centered on the question of development and production of defense- related items jointly by the United States and India.
“This is a priority for Prime Minister Modi to strengthen India's indigenous defence industrial base, as well as advancing the military modernisation,” he said.
Earlier in January, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval started off the initiative for critical and emerging technology (iCET) in a bid to bolster technology cooperation between the US and India and that the two countries are looking to advance a very strong defence component included in that.
“I know there have been efforts at this in the past. Sometimes there's skepticism around, is it going to be real this time? And my answer is, I think, all signs are pointing toward yes, it's going to be real and we're going to have some really big, historic, exciting announcements out of the prime minister's visit in terms of particular projects around defence industrial cooperation,” Ratner continued.
He said that they are also looking to enhance operational coordination in several different areas. There will be focus on the Indian Ocean, on the undersea domain, along with new domains, including space and cyber and information sharing.
Harking back to the development of the US-India relationship, Ratner said it can hardly be believed how much the relationship has moved forward over the last couple of decades. “That’s true now more than ever,” he said.
The US, India and other world powers have been speaking on the need of ensuring a free, open and thriving Indo-Pacific region, taken in the backdrop of China's increasing military maneuvers in the region.
China lays claims to almost all of the disputed South China Sea, even though Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam also claim them. Artificial islands and military installations in the South China Sea have been built by Beijing.