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Defence, tech in focus at bilateral meetings

Oct 01, 2023 11:01 PM IST

Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin discussed security issues in East Asia and the Indian Ocean region, as well as deepening defense industrial cooperation and defense innovation initiatives. Jaishankar also met with Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to discuss technology and commerce. The meetings come ahead of the upcoming 2+2 dialogue between the foreign and defense ministers of both countries. Progress has been made on defense and tech cooperation between India and the US this year.

Washington: External affairs minister S Jaishankar and US secretary of defence Lloyd Austin shared perspectives on security issues in East Asia and the Indian Ocean region, while focusing on deepening defence industrial cooperation, logistical and operational synergy, and defence innovation initiatives.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar addresses a press conference in Washington, D.C. on Saturday (ANI)
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar addresses a press conference in Washington, D.C. on Saturday (ANI)

Jaishankar visited the Pentagon on Friday for a bilateral with Austin, who was in Delhi in June and will be in India in November for the upcoming 2+2 dialogue between the foreign and defence ministers of both countries.

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India’s other focus during Jaishankar’s visit to Washington DC was technology and commerce, with the minister also meeting secretary of commerce Gina Raimondo, who was in Delhi in March for the bilateral commercial dialogue and the CEOs forum.

Both Austin and Raimondo are key champions of the India relationship, and there has been substantial progress under the defence and tech cooperation pillars of the initiative on critical and emerging technology this year. Besides them, Jaishankar had met two other cabinet members — Secretary of State Antony J Blinken and US Trade Representative Katherine Tai — and national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Thursday.

On the meeting with Austin, Jaishankar posted on X, “Productive conversation on our bilateral defence cooperation. Useful exchange on global security challenges.”

But the Pentagon offered a more detailed readout, with the spokesperson stating that the two had “exchanged perspectives on a variety of security issues, including recent developments in East Asia and the Indian Ocean region”. “Secretary Austin and Minister Jaishankar discussed opportunities to deepen bilateral defense cooperation, including expanded defense industrial cooperation and co-production of defense articles; streamlined logistics procedures to enhance operational cooperation; and continued implementation of the India-U.S. Defense Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X)”, the department of defence said.

The meeting between the ministers just comes days after Indian and American officials held the US-India 2+2 Intersessional dialogue, which, according to the Pentagon, “advanced a wide range of ambitious initiatives”, including defence and security, emerging technologies, people-to-people ties, clean energy, and supply chain resilience. The US and India had reviewed the progress under the defence industrial cooperation roadmap, welcomed progress on new co-production initiatives, committed to expeditiously conclude negotiations on Security of Supply Arrangement and Reciprocal Defense Procurement agreements, discussed opportunities to further strengthen interoperability and logistics cooperation, “including through combined maritime engagements in the Indian Ocean region”, and expanding cooperation in the space and cyber domains.

Jaishankar also attended a meeting with the US defence industry hosted by the US-India Business Council on Friday. He tweeted, “Discussed how strategic convergence, technology collaboration and easier to do business are coming together to transform our defence partnership.”

On the meeting with Raimondo, whose department handles commerce but under whose ambit falls a range of tech-related policy issues including export controls and the wide array of semiconductor initiatives as the key agency to implement the domestic Chips Act, Jaishankar posted on X, “We appreciated the significant progress in technology collaboration and economic partnership this year. Agreed to enhance their momentum.”

The minister also attended a lunch hosted by the US India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), chaired by Mukesh Aghi, on Thursday. The minister had said that they had a “focused discussion on India-US collaboration on critical and emerging tech and creating resilient supply chains”. He added that he was glad to know that India was a “major talking point” in corporate boardrooms and bilateral cooperation offered more possibilities with each passing day.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Prashant Jha is the Washington DC-based US correspondent of Hindustan Times. He is also the editor of HT Premium. Jha has earlier served as editor-views and national political editor/bureau chief of the paper. He is the author of How the BJP Wins: Inside India's Greatest Election Machine and Battles of the New Republic: A Contemporary History of Nepal.

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