The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi held a bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden on Friday ahead of this weekend’s G20 leaders’ summit in New Delhi. This was the second meeting of the two leaders in less than three months – Modi visited Washington in June.
The American president was driven directly to the prime minister’s official residence from Indira Gandhi International Airport and their bilateral meeting was followed by a private dinner that Modi hosted in honor of Biden, who is visiting India for the first time as US President, though he’s been to the South Asian nation twice before. The last US president to visit India was Donald Trump, in February 2020.
President Biden praised India’s G20 presidency for “further demonstrating how the G20 as a forum is delivering important outcomes,” the White House readout of proceedings said. It added that the leaders expressed confidence that the outcomes of the summit in New Delhi will “advance the shared goals of accelerating sustainable development, bolstering multilateral cooperation, and building global consensus around inclusive economic policies.”
Ahead of President Biden’s journey to the G20 summit, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters that Washington will focus on “delivering for developing countries, making progress on key priorities for the American people, from climate to technology, and showing our commitment to the G20.” Sullivan also said the US welcomed the addition of the African Union as a new permanent member of the G20 and that scaling up and reshaping development banks and institutions (the World Bank and IMF) would also be a focus of the discussions.
The Modi-Biden bilateral meeting is the first of 15 that the Indian premier is set to hold with world leaders on the summit’s sidelines. As India and the US each head into key elections next year, both leaders reviewed the implementation of recent agreements covering defense, strategic security and technological fields. This includes expanding cooperation in the semiconductor industry, with US companies Microchip Technology and Advanced Micro Devices investing around $300 million and $400 million respectively in expanding research and development operations in India.
Both leaders took stock of the progress made towards a binding US Congress approval for a defense agreement, involving the manufacture of GE F-414 jet engines in India, and underscored the importance of the fresh Master Ship Repair Agreement, with the most recent agreement signed by the US Navy and Mazgaon Dock Shipbuilders last month.
“Both sides recommitted to advancing India’s emergence as a hub for the maintenance and repair of forward-deployed US Navy assets and other aircraft and vessels,” the readout said.
Modi and Biden also discussed advancements made in the $3.5-billion deal for India’s purchase of 31 General Atomics MQ-9B drones, as well as collaboration on critical and emerging technologies, and on academic programs tailored for Indian students pursuing higher studies in America.
The leaders also discussed cooperation in the nuclear sector, including collaboration in development of next-generation small modular reactors. In June, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India and Westinghouse Electric Company held talks about the construction of six nuclear reactors in India for its domestic market and about possibilities in exporting to third countries.
The US President is expected to be back in New Delhi in January 2024, along with Australian PM Anthony Albanese and Japanese PM Fumio Kishida, for the meeting of the Quad grouping, coinciding with the 75th Republic Day celebrations on January 26, according to Indian media. India is also discussing the possibility of inviting Quad leaders to the Republic Day parade on January 26, but since Australia Day is observed on the same date, the Australian PM will have to be home for celebrations, the diplomatic sources have indicated.