Closer defence ties top agenda for PM’s US visit

New Delhi: Stepping up defence cooperation, India and the US are poised to unveil a roadmap for industries in the sector to partner closely in co-production, co-development and maintaining supply change during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US beginning June 21.

Prime Minister Modi, during his first state visit to the US, will also hold discussions with President Joe Biden on bettering trade and investment relations, besides forging closer ties in the technology domain comprising telecom, space and manufacturing.

Addressing a press conference here, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said the prime minister will also be on a state visit to Egypt from June 24-25 at the invitation of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi during which he is also scheduled to visit 11th Century mosque Al-Hakim, which was refurbished and renovated by the Bohra community.

The foreign secretary said the Defence Industrial Cooperation Roadmap was expected to be one of the key outcomes of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the US.

“It essentially focuses on all aspects of defence co-production and co-development. It also talks about how defence industrial ecosystems of the two countries could cooperate much better, how the supply lines in the field of defence industry could also interface with each other much better,” he said.

Kwatra described defence cooperation as a “key pillar” of India’s relationship with the US.

“If you look at the complete matrix of the India-US defence partnership, it is very robust, very dynamic, it has all the significant elements that make it so important.

“We conduct a large number of bilateral military exercises – both bilateral as also regional in nature. Armed forces have staff-to-staff engagement. India is also the deployer of the US equipment and platforms. Some of them are used by India,” he said.

Modi will begin the visit to the US from New York, where he will lead the International Yoga Day celebrations at the United Nations headquarters and meet prominent personalities and leaders on June 21.

He will travel to Washington the same day and join President Biden and first lady Jill Biden for a private engagement.

Prime Minister Modi will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at the White House on June 22, which will be followed by a formal bilateral meeting with Biden.

President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will also host a state dinner in honour of Modi on Thursday evening.

On Friday, the prime minister will interact with select Chief Executive Officers of leading companies. Later, US Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Bilnken will host a state luncheon.

Prime Minister Modi will also address the Indian-American community at the Reagan Centre.

“It is a milestone in our relationship. It is a very significant visit, a very important visit, a visit on which there is a genuine, widespread and deep interest in the US,” Kwatra said, adding that Modi has visited the US six times since 2014.