US president Joe Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with PM Narendra Modi on 8 September on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in New Delhi. The two leaders are likely to sign a pact on small nuclear reactors and discuss the next steps in the jet engine and drone deals

It’s an important week for Indian diplomacy and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the midst of all the action. He will be in Jakarta for the ASEAN, East Asia Summit on 6 and 7 September, after which he will return. India hosts the G20 leadership summit, its biggest diplomatic event in years, on 9 and 10 September. As US president Joe Biden travels to New Delhi, he is also expected to participate in bilateral meetings with several Indian leaders including the PM.

Biden will travel to New Delhi from 7 September to 10 September. Before attending the G20 Summit, he will participate in bilateral meetings with a range of leaders. He will hold discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8 September on the sidelines of the historic meeting.

During PM Modi’s state visit to Washington on 22 and 23 June, the two leaders discussed several matters of importance – from jet engines to drones, from visas to consulates, and more – and are now expected to move ahead on what was agreed upon.

Small Nuclear Reactors

India-US civil nuclear cooperation is expected to be among the top agendas during the Modi-Biden bilateral in New Delhi. It could add momentum to negotiations between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and US-based Westinghouse Electric Company (WEC) for the construction of six nuclear reactors – each with 1100 MWe generation capacity – at Kovvada in Andhra Pradesh, according to a report by Deccan Herald.

The two countries signed a nuclear deal in October 2008 but India’s nuclear liability law has been a concern of America. Washington is now looking at options on how to work with New Delhi on the matter.

PM Modi and President Biden “welcomed intensified consultations between the US DOE [Department of Energy and India’s DAE [Department of Atomic Energy] for facilitating opportunities for WEC to develop a techno-commercial offer for the Kovvada nuclear project. They also noted the ongoing discussion on developing next-generation small modular reactor technologies in a collaborative mode for the domestic market as well as for export,” the joint statement released at the end of PM’s June visit said.

Now the two sides are looking to take the next steps.

The two leaders are also expected to discuss bilateral cooperation in developing next-generation small modular nuclear reactor technologies for the domestic market and export. The subject was briefly discussed at the White House on 22 June. A nuclear pact on small reactors is on the cards in New Delhi, according to media reports.

The Jet Engine Deal

Discussions on the jet engine deal, which was in the spotlight during PM Modi’s visit to the US, will continue.

This deal allows GE Aerospace to transfer 80 per cent of its technology to India for the production of F414 fight jet engines. This transfer of tech aims to enhance the performance of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) TEJAS MK-2. The pact entails the joint production of F414 engines in India under the Air Force’s TEJAS MK-2 program, reports India Today.

Last week, the US Congress gave a go-ahead to the Biden administration to pursue the jet engine deal with India. Now the two nations hoping to finalise the conclusion of the deal.

India has plans to procure the highly powerful drones, MQ-9B HALE UAVs. A discussion on setting up General Atomics’ Comprehensive Global MRO facility in India is expected, according to a report in The Indian Express.

Easing of Visas And New Consulates

During PM’s visit, the in-country renewal of H-1B visas was announced. This would help thousands of Indian professionals staying in the US to continue working without the hassle of leaving the country to renew their work visas.

A launch date for this programme is expected to be announced and finalised during Biden’s India visit, The Indian Express reports.

Two new US consulates are expected to come up in India – in Bengaluru and Ahmedabad. India is expected to open a consulate in Seattle. An announcement on two new consulates in the US is expected when the two leaders meet later in the week.

Reforms of Multilateral Development Banks

During his India visit, Biden is expected to push for reforms of multilateral development banks (MDBs) with a proposal that enhances the financial capability of these institutions. This will help address the challenges of poverty elimination, boosting prosperity and addressing the climate crisis, according to a report in Hindustan Times.

Jill Biden COVID Positive, President Negative

Ahead of the crucial India visit, US First Lady Jill Biden has tested positive for COVID-19. The president has tested negative, the White House said.

“Following the First Lady’s positive test for COVID-19, President Biden was administered a COVID test this evening,” the White House said. “The President tested negative. The President will test at a regular cadence this week and monitor for symptoms.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Biden’s foreign travel could be affected.