A top White House official said on Tuesday he hoped a state visit this month by Prime Minister Narendra Modi “consecrates” the relationship with India as the most important for the US in the world.
These remarks came on the heels of PM Modi’s official visit to the country, which will include a state dinner and an address to US Congress.
During this key visit, 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, according to media reports.
A deal finalizing the joint production of the engines is expected to be inked and announced by the time President Joe Biden hosts Modi.
Kurt Campbell, President Joe Biden’s top official for the Indo-Pacific region told a Washington-based think tank India was playing a “critical role” globally and not just strategically.
“Many business groups, investment groups, are looking at India as part of a strategy to diversify globally new supply chains, new investment opportunities,” he told Hudson Institute. “I think the hope will be to open up venues and activities for more investment.”
Campbell added that US universities wanted to train more engineers and technology specialists and the United States wanted to open up more of those opportunities to Indians.
He said that while the United States and India were both “imperfect democracies” and there were still “concerns” that would be discussed, there was “a degree of trust and confidence” between the countries that did not exist a decade ago.
“Our goal will be to seek to build on that,” Campbell said.
“My hope is that this visit basically consecrates the U.S.- India relationship as the most important bilateral relationship with the United States on the global stage, and that we effectively make it into sort of escape velocity.”
The United States sees India as vital partner in its efforts to push back against China’s expanding influence worldwide, even though it remains concerned about New Delhi’s strong ties to Russia, despite the Ukraine war, and Modi’s rights record.
The White House announced last month it would welcome PM Modi for an official state visit on June 22.
PM Modi, who was invited to address a joint meeting of Congress, on Tuesday accepted the invitation, stating that it is an honour to address the Joint Meeting of the United States Congress.
The Prime Minister expressed pride in Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership between India and the US built upon the foundation of shared democratic values, strong people-to-people ties, and an unwavering commitment to global peace and prosperity.
On Monday, the White House expressed that it regards India as a thriving democracy, a remark which was seen as a rejection of apprehensions surrounding India’s democratic standing.
“India is a vibrant democracy. Anybody that, you know, happens to go to New Delhi can see that for themselves. And certainly, I would expect that strength and health of democratic institutions will be part of the discussion,” John Kirby, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House, told reporters at a news conference, reported PTI.
“Look, we never shy away. And you can do that with friends. You’re supposed to do that with friends. You never shy away from expressing concerns that we might have with anyone around the world. But this (State) visit is really about advancing what is now and what we hope will be a deeper, stronger partnership and friendship going forward,” Kirby said in response to a question.
Kirby said India is a strong partner with the United States on many levels.
(With agency inputs)