India and US vow to boost defense, trade ties in first high-level US visit since Modi's election win

In this image released by The Prime Minister of India and posted on the official X, formerly twitter, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, shakes hands with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, during a meeting with him, in New Delhi, India, Monday, June 17, 2024. (The Prime Minister of India via AP)

NEW DELHI (AP) — India and the United States on Monday pledged to boost defense and technology cooperation and remove long-standing barriers to bilateral strategic trade, following a meeting between the national security advisers of both countries.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan is on a two-day visit to the Indian capital, New Delhi, the first from a high-ranking U.S. official since Prime Minister Narendra Modi secured a third straight term in India's general election earlier this month. Sullivan met with his counterpart, Ajit Doval, to discuss progress on the Initiative on Critical Emerging Technologies, which the two countries launched in 2022.

The initiative sets a path for collaboration on semiconductor production and developing artificial intelligence and was critical in sealing a deal that will allow U.S.-based General Electric to partner with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics to produce jet engines in India.

On Monday, the two officials emphasized the need for more collaboration, with a focus on funding innovative research in areas like semiconductor manufacturing, clean energy and machine learning. They also discussed the possible co-production of land warfare systems, according to a joint statement.

Sullivan also held talks with Modi, in which the two reaffirmed their commitment to bolstering ties between New Delhi and Washington, and he met with Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. On Tuesday, Sullivan is expected to meet with industry and business leaders.

India and the U.S. have grown closer recently, as both countries eye China's growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region with caution. Modi was honored with a pomp-filled state visit last year, where he and U.S. President Joe Biden called the India-U.S. relationship among the most consequential in the world.

But ties have also been tested after U.S. prosecutors last year accused an Indian government official of orchestrating a plot to murder a Sikh separatist leader in New York.

Sullivan's visit to New Delhi comes as an Indian national was extradited to the U.S. from the Czech Republic to face charges of murder for hire and conspiracy to commit murder for hire, in relation to the assassination plot, which was foiled by U.S. officials.

The charges were the second recent accusation of complicity by Indian government officials in attempts to kill Sikh separatist figures living in North America.

In September, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there were credible allegations that the Indian government had links to the assassination in that country of Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. While India rejected Trudeau's accusations, it has set up an investigation committee to look into the U.S. allegations.