National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval met with the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington earlier today as both countries continued to strengthen their strategic partnership to address global challenges.

“The United States is expanding cooperation with India to address global challenges. I had a good meeting with Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval today to discuss deepening our strategic partnership,” Blinken tweeted after the meeting.

Accompanied by senior government officials as well as leaders of Indian industry, NSA Doval is on an official visit to Washington DC from 30 January to 1 February 2023.

During the visit, NSA interacted with US policymakers and stakeholders across government, Congress, business, academic and research communities on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.

Apart from his meeting with the US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, he also met Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, Acting Secretary of Defence Kathleen Hicks, key Senators and industry leaders.

Together with NSA Sullivan, NSA Doval co-chaired the inaugural meeting of the initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) at the White House on January 31, translating into action the announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joseph Biden during their meeting in Tokyo in May 2022.

NSA was joined at the launch by the Ambassador of India to the United States, the Principal Scientific Advisor, the Secretary of Department of Telecommunications, Chairman of ISRO, Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, DRDO Director General and other senior officials from National Security Council Secretariat and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

The New York Times quoted Sullivan as saying on Tuesday that the goal was for technological partnerships to be “the next big milestone” in the U.S.-Indian relationship after a 2016 agreement on nuclear power cooperation. He described the effort as a “big foundational piece of an overall strategy to put the entire democratic world in the Indo-Pacific in a position of strength.”

iCET aims to position the two countries as trusted technology partners by building technology value chains and support the co-development and co-production of items. It also aims to address regulatory restrictions, export controls and mobility barriers through a standing mechanism. The US side also assured support to ease export barriers to India in a few critical areas, including through efforts towards legislative changes. Emphasis was placed on strengthening linkages between the startup ecosystems and building innovation bridges in key sectors between the two countries, through expos, hackathons and pitching sessions.

The NYT said that the agreements will be a test of whether the Biden administration can realize its proposal for “friendshoring” by shifting the manufacturing of certain critical components to friendly countries. Biden officials have expressed concerns about the United States’ continued heavy reliance on China for semiconductors, telecommunications parts and other important goods. In recent months they have clamped down on the sale of advanced semiconductor technology to China, in an effort to stymie an industry that the White House says could give China a military advantage.

The daily added that the two countries also pledged to speed up their efforts to jointly produce and develop certain defence technologies, including jet engines, artillery systems and armoured infantry vehicles. The United States said it would look to quickly review a new proposal by General Electric to produce a jet engine with India.

Recognizing the importance of quantum technologies, both sides established a quantum coordination mechanism with participation from industry and academia. In the field of semiconductors, the US supported the development of a fabrication ecosystem in India, and encouraged joint ventures and partnerships for mature technology nodes and advanced packaging. It was agreed to constitute a task force involving India’s Semiconductor Mission, India Electronics Semiconductor Association (IESA) and the US Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) to develop a “readiness assessment” to identify near term opportunities and facilitate longer term development of semiconductor ecosystems.

The field of defence manufacturing, the two sides agreed to focus on joint production of key items of mutual interest. The US committed to expeditious review of the license application submitted by General Electric to produce jet engines in India for the indigenously manufactured Light Combat Aircraft. A new Innovation Bridge will be created to connect defence startups on both sides.

In the field of space, there was appreciation of the opportunities offered by the opening up of India’s space sector, and the contribution of India’s space tech companies in the US. It was agreed that ISRO would work with NASA on human space flight opportunities, NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) project, and STEM talent exchanges.

In next generation telecommunications, given India’s cost-competitiveness and scale, both sides agreed to launch a public-private dialogue covering 5G/6G and ORAN using trusted sources.

During the iCET launch, a new Implementation Arrangement between the Department of Science and Technology of India and the National Science Foundation of the US was signed by the Ambassador and NSF Director. This will expand joint research in CET.

The discussions during this visit form the basis for intensifying India-US cooperation in cutting-edge sectors and are truly reflective of the maturity of the India-US comprehensive, global strategic partnership. Both countries agreed to maintain sustained attention to achieve outcome-oriented deliverables within definitive timelines.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Wednesday that the “important” India-US partnership is between “two friends” which look forward to creating a democratic technology ecosystem to reinforce democratic values and their democratic institutions.

When asked whether the initiatives are aimed towards China, the White House said that it is not about any country or one country.

“You can’t ignore the geopolitical context that we live in, as you asked me about China. But this initiative is not about one — any country or one country. It truly is about something bigger than that: a relationship between two friends, two countries who have been partners for some time.

“… As two — two of the world’s leading economies and democracies, it is in our interest to strengthen this partnership and deliver for our people, when you think about the economies and the people around the world. So we think this is an important step forward. And we’ll continue to grow on this innovation — initiative,” said the White House Press Secretary.