During the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the White House, the United States and India announced significant defence and technology deals. The two leaders held talks in the Oval Office and addressed the media in a rare joint news conference.
President Joe Biden emphasised the strength of the partnership between the two countries, describing it as stronger and more dynamic than ever before. Prime Minister Modi spoke of a “new chapter” in the strategic relationship between India and the US.
Ahead of the visit, it was announced that India would purchase armed MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones from the US defence contractor General Atomics. Additionally, memory chipmaker Micron plans to establish a $2.75 billion semiconductor assembly and test facility in India, with a significant investment of $800 million from the US company. Another key agreement involves General Electric co-producing fighter jet engines in India, which is hailed as a groundbreaking initiative by the Biden administration.
These deals, along with efforts to enhance cooperation in space, demonstrate the US's aim to bring India into its orbit as part of a broader strategy to counter China, with whom India has ongoing border disputes. The Biden administration has been actively working to strengthen defence and security cooperation with India, including reviving the “Quad” security group, which includes India, Japan, Australia, and the US.
While India maintains a non-aligned foreign policy, its proximity to the US has increased amid tensions with China. The border clash between Indian and Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley in May 2020 has further motivated India to partner with the US. The security agreements announced during the visit are expected to enhance interoperability between the two countries' militaries.
Regarding concerns about human rights issues in India, President Biden pledged to approach discussions with “humility” and avoid lecturing or scolding. He highlighted that both countries share democratic values, a sentiment echoed by Prime Minister Modi, who emphasised that democracy is ingrained in the fabric of India.