New Delhi, September 8
US President Joe Biden left the US for India after a last Covid check at around 4 am IST on Friday. His first engagement shortly after alighting will be a bilateral with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the PMO instead of the usual Hyderabad House, which will be followed by a working dinner. The US President took no questions as he left for India and Vietnam.
Both sides have given positive signals ahead of the meeting that will again assess the extent of US-India cooperation possible in the strategic domain and the position of both nations towards China at a time when the US and Australia have made overtures towards Beijing, said informed sources.
Biden arrives after his administration ensured that the US Congress gave the go-ahead for licensed manufacture and tech transfer of GE jet engines in India which fits in with the Indian aim of achieving advanced manufacturing capability in a wide range of areas. India, on the other hand, has green-signalled the process for the purchase of the highly-advanced MQ-9B Reaper by General Atomics with the contract to be signed next year before the nations goes into the election mode.
At the Summit, Biden will have the field to himself to woo the Global South after his geostrategic rivals, the Russian and Chinese Presidents, absented themselves from the Delhi meet. He is expected to announce US steadfastness to relieving the debt burden on poor countries and endorse a futuristic plan of a $200 billion fund as corpus for the purpose.
The US President is also expected to strongly endorse a proposed global biofuels alliance. Washington is pushing for promoting green energy, having realised that bulk manufacturing, once it is back in the US, cannot be powered by fossil fuels alone, sources said.
On the regional level, talks are at an advanced stage on announcing a joint railway network through the Arab world with India’s involvement and is the result of i2U2 (India, Israel, the UAE and the US) quadrilateral. With the intermeshing of several ports including in the subcontinent, Dubai, Israel and Greece, it would be a faster route for products to and from Europe as well as undercut Chinese endeavours in this regard.
Attention will remain focused on Biden after the summit. His next visit will be to former adversary Vietnam where, as in Delhi, the bilaterals will assess the limits of their relationship against the backdrop of the China factor. After Richard Nixon’s visit to the massive US naval base Cam Ranh Bay in 1969 there was a pause on US Presidential visits for over two decades after the US military quit Vietnam in 1975. Bill Clinton went to Vietnam in 2000 and since then all US Presidents -- George Bush Jr, Barack Obama and Donald Trump -- have been to Vietnam.
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