Tremendous excitement for PM Modi's historic state visit, says top presidential aide

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Narendra Modi (File Photo)

Washington: There is tremendous excitement for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's State Visit here which will highlight many elements in the US-India strategic relationship, a top US presidential aide has said.

Modi has been invited by President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for a state visit, which will include a State Dinner on June 22.

“There's tremendous enthusiasm and excitement about the upcoming visit. Large numbers of stakeholders in the US-India relationship are all coming to Washington to celebrate the importance of our ties and take necessary steps to take the bilateral relationship even further,” Kurt Campbell, Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, told PTI in an interview on Monday.

On Monday Campbell, 65, joined National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan for a trip to India to hold the next round of the initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET).

The path-breaking ICET that ropes in technology as a key strategic element to the India-US relationship was launched by Sullivan and his Indian counterpart National Security Advisor Ajit Doval early this year. A group of American CEOs are also travelling to New Delhi to participate in the talks. The two sides are expected to be discussing a range of issues associated with enhanced American investment in critical Indian industries and technologies.

“I can say after spending substantial time with the president and all the key players, there really is a rare sense of anticipation for what we believe will be a historic visit," Campbell said in response to a question.

As the Biden administration plans to throw an unprecedented red-carpet welcome to the Prime Minister, it has organised a series of events every day next week in the American Capital, which will celebrate the various aspects of this relationship.

“I would just underscore this is not simply the State Dinner. This is a weeklong celebration and that will highlight many elements in the US-India relationship,” Campbell said.

Every single day next week, there will be something about the people-to-people ties, education, and technology that will be on full display, both for the Indian people, the American people and the world.

For instance, US India Business Council on June 20 and 21 is hosting the inaugural INDUS X conference at the US Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the US Department of Defence and India’s Ministry of Defence and industry partners like General Atomics.

Responding to a question, Campbell said that he expects many deliverables at the end of the visit but did not give any indication of the specificities.

“We will have many deliverables: the major investment deals in India, some agreements in defence technology,” said the top presidential aide.

Campbell for the past three decades has been one of the biggest advocates of the India-US relationship. As a senior diplomat in the State Department during the Obama Administration, he was instrumental in launching the Quad dialogue, which has now taken the shape of regular meetings at the leadership level.

Meanwhile, a senior administration official told PTI that one of the reasons that Sullivan is going to India this week is just to ensure that all the appropriate and necessary steps have been taken to have a series of deliverables that will be substantial and will indicate that the Biden Administration wants to take India's relationship forward.

According to the senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the two leaders are expected to discuss a host of issues.

“There will inevitably be discussions about political and security issues in the Indo-Pacific. I believe those will be of critical importance. Obviously, the United States and India are closely aligned when it comes to thinking about challenges to peace and stability, ideas for stabilising some of the challenging arenas in the Indo-Pacific,” the official said.

“There will be discussions and some of these might be challenging …(like) the issues in Ukraine,” the official said, adding that there will also be discussions on India hosting the G-20 Summit in September this year.

“We will talk about climate change, about the role that India can play in securing supply chains,” the official said.

Familiar with the planning of the historic trip, the senior administration official said that they expect those discussions to be intimate, candid, forthright, and in almost all cases, productive.

“The US and India don't agree on everything. But we agree on most things. And those areas where we are where we do have differences, we're able to discuss them in a responsible and effective way. So, I think that the conversations will likely be quite deep and sustained. And again, I think this is what is necessary in the current phase of our bilateral relationship,” said the official.