WASHINGTON – The United States and India are deepening their partnership to share advanced defence and computing technology as the Biden administration seeks to shift New Delhi away from Russia and accelerate efforts to counter China.
The plan is known as the US-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies, and was initially launched in May 2022.
Details released on Tuesday fit into Washington’s broader agenda of strengthening military, technology and supply chain links with partner countries.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday the framework will not be solely driven by the geopolitical challenge China poses, but noted that Beijing’s aggressive military moves and economic practices have had “a profound impact on the thinking in Delhi” and other capitals around the world.
“The China-Russia factors are real, but so is the idea of building a deep, democratic ecosystem of high technology,” Mr Sullivan said, previewing the partnership with reporters.
“So, geopolitics doesn’t sit off to the side, but it’s not a comprehensive explanation for what’s at work here.”
Mr Sullivan met his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on Tuesday and both attended an event with executives from American and Indian tech firms and university presidents on Monday.
US President Joe Biden is expected to travel to India for the Group of 20 leaders’ summit in September and see Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Australia at a summit of the so-called Quad security partners, which includes Japan.
One area of interest for India would be domestically producing General Electric jet engines, which it uses in its combat aircraft.
A proposal from General Electric is now before the US government to approve the joint production of jet engines in the defence technology space, Mr Sullivan said.
He would not speculate on how soon an announcement might come but added the countries are aiming for “fast and ambitious progress”.
Beyond jet engines, the initiative on critical and emerging technologies also includes cooperation on artillery systems, armoured infantry vehicles and maritime security, as well as semiconductors, quantum computing and artificial intelligence.
Mr Sullivan acknowledged that the partnership with India is not without its risks, given the weapons trade between India and Russia.
But he stressed that the initiative was not sparked by the war in Ukraine or efforts to drive a wedge between New Delhi and Moscow.
“I’m not going to say that facilitating the movement of India off of Russian equipment to other equipment is an irrelevant consideration – of course it is not,” he said.
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