Biden meets Modi: Make India a center for repairing US naval assets

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(Original title: Biden meets Modi: Make India a center for repairing US naval assets)

【Text/Observer Network Liu Chenghui】

"When Biden and Modi meet, it is extremely rare for the American press corps to be isolated in a van..." Amid the controversy over India's strict media controls, US President Joe Biden began the G20 trip.

On the evening of September 8, local time, Biden arrived in New Delhi, the capital of India, to participate in the G20 summit held on the 9th. Immediately upon arrival, he held bilateral talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and issued a 29-point joint statement covering cooperation in key and emerging technologies such as trade, defense, semiconductors, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, etc. The statement mentioned that the U.S. industry will increase its investment in India and work to make India a center for maintaining forward-deployed U.S. naval assets; The United States also reiterated its support for India as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

Although Campbell, the White House coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs, spoke highly of the "undeniable warmth and confidence" between the leaders of the two countries, the U.S.-India relationship has changed dramatically. The Financial Times notes that the lengthy statement is nothing new, but a repeat of past commitments. The strict control of the media by the Indian security department has also become a topic of foreign media attention.


On the evening of September 8, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted US President Joe Biden/Indian Prime Minister's Office at his official residence

The Associated Press (AP) reported that when Biden's "Air Force One" presidential plane landed, the Indian side held a grand welcome ceremony for him at the airport. Biden then went to Modi's official residence, and the talks lasted about 52 minutes. The White House revealed that US Treasury Secretary Yellen and White House National Security Advisor Sullivan jointly participated in the meeting, and the Indian side also included Foreign Minister Sujaishankar and National Security Adviser Dorval.

After the meeting, the United States and India issued a 29-point joint statement. The two countries pledged to strengthen cooperation in a range of areas, including trade, defense, space, semiconductors, quantum computing, supply chains, nuclear and renewable energy, and education, the statement said.


The White House website published a joint statement on September 8

The two countries reaffirmed their commitment to diversify India's major defense partnerships by expanding cooperation in new technologies such as space and artificial intelligence and accelerating defense industry cooperation, the statement said. The United States welcomes the Indian Ministry of Defense's purchase of 31 GM-9B UAVs (including 16 Skyguard and 15 Oceanskeeper), which will enhance the surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of the Indian Armed Ministry.

"The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to promote India as a hub for the maintenance and repair of forward-deployed U.S. Navy assets and other aircraft. Leaders also welcomed further increased investment by U.S. industry in India's capabilities and facilities to maintain, repair and overhaul aircraft. ”

During the U.S.-India summit in June, the two countries announced a series of defense and commercial agreements, including allowing major repairs to U.S. Navy ships at Indian shipyards. US media disclosed in July that under a ship maintenance agreement signed by India and the United States, US warships can use Indian shipyards to provide repair and maintenance services for them, facilitating the increasing number of US warships deployed to the region and bringing more business to Indian shipyards.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said that China has always believed that military cooperation between countries should not undermine regional peace and stability, should not target a third party, and must not harm the interests of a third party. We hope that relevant countries can do more useful things to enhance security and mutual trust among countries in the region and maintain regional stability.

In terms of supply chain, the United States and India reiterated in a statement that it supports the establishment of a resilient global semiconductor supply chain. The U.S. will invest USD 300 million to expand its R&D business in India. The two countries have also established two joint working groups to focus on cooperation in the field of "Open Radio Access Network" (Open RAN) and research and development of 5G/6G technologies.

At the same time, the two countries pledged to strengthen cooperation in the field of nuclear energy; Promote investment and R&D in renewable energy projects and accelerate the use of emerging renewable technologies and energy systems.

On the diplomatic front, the United States reiterated its support for reform of the United Nations Security Council to make India a permanent member. The United States also welcomes India's candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council for 2028-29.


On the evening of September 8, Biden and Modi held a meeting site/Indian Prime Minister's Office

Sullivan told reporters on the evening of the 7th on the "Air Force One" that Modi deliberately chose to meet with Biden at the official residence, "This is very special."

Modi posted on social media X, "It is a pleasure to welcome President Biden to the residence. Our meeting was very productive. We discussed a number of topics that will further promote economic and human ties between India and the United States. ”

"Frankly, we're happy to be here. It was great to see the Indians so welcoming us. Campbell, the White House coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs, told reporters after the meeting.


Campbell, White House coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs, known as the "Indo-Pacific Tsar"/Infographic

Campbell said U.S. and Indian leaders are working to achieve a "major breakthrough" in connecting India with the Middle East and Europe, involving infrastructure and communications, which could be announced during the G20 summit on the 9th.

The Observer Network previously quoted Reuters as saying that the United States, Saudi Arabia, India and other countries are discussing a possible infrastructure agreement to connect Middle Eastern countries by rail, which will connect to India through port shipping, which will affect trade between the Gulf and South Asia. US media have said that this is a key move promoted by the White House to counter China's influence.

It is worth noting that despite the attempts by the United States and India to stir up the atmosphere for cooperation between the two countries, the Financial Times noted that there was nothing new in the "lengthy joint statement" issued by the two countries, and that Biden and Modi were merely repeating the commitments they had made to each other over the past few months, including at the US-India summit in Washington in June.

Although the US-India Joint Statement does not mention China at all, many Western media still regard China as a factor in the proximity of the United States and India.

The Wall Street Journal on September 8 deliberately played up the Sino-Indian border dispute, saying that both India and the United States are seeking to strengthen ties to counter China. The Associated Press claims that center-left Democrat Biden and right-wing Hindu nationalist Modi can hardly be called "soul mates" ideologically, however, they are getting closer to target China. Reuters said that although India is not an ally in a formal treaty with the United States and has long adhered to an independent policy, the United States hopes that India can become a "strategic counterbalance" to China.

In addition to concerns about the content of the talks and the political and diplomatic situation, India's draconian media control measures have sparked complaints from many Western media.

The British newspaper The Guardian said that although both leaders publicly proclaimed their shared commitment to democracy and the Prime Minister's Office released footage of the two "cordial conversations", the journalists' experience highlighted the state of press freedom in India, reflecting the strict control of the media by the Indian security services.

"Biden and Modi discuss democracy, while the US media is sidelined." Reuters disclosed on September 8 that when Biden and Modi met at the prime minister's residence, the US press corps was isolated in a van and out of sight of the two leaders.

"This is an unusual situation for journalists and photographers who have followed the US president at home and abroad to witness and document his public appearances." Reuters reported that the U.S. press corps, made up of representatives of major news organizations who accompany the president on trips at home and abroad, usually also learn about major events, and "it is extremely rare that it is completely prohibited."

The White House said on the evening of the 7th local time that although the White House administration has repeatedly requested more opportunities for journalists, journalists accompanying US President Biden to India to participate in the G20 summit will not have the opportunity to ask questions to Biden and Indian Prime Minister Modi when they meet.

Against this background, Biden decided to postpone the press conference scheduled for the summit and instead hold it in Vietnam, the next stop. According to the White House, it will be "easier" for Biden to take questions from reporters in Vietnam. White House spokesman Jean-Pierre explained that Biden's press conference in Vietnam "won't change anything."

This article is an exclusive manuscript of the Observer Network and may not be reproduced without authorization.