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US, India agree to prevent leakage of sensitive tech to ‘countries of concern’

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has visited New Delhi for talks following the inauguration of a new government

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval, have agreed to prevent the leakage of sensitive technologies to “countries of concern,” according to a joint statement released on Monday.  

Sullivan’s visit to India is the first by a member of the Biden administration since Narendra Modi took charge for a third consecutive term.

The discussions formed part of the US-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET), established in 2023. The joint statement covers a wide range of topics, from joint investment in research, to space and proposed defense deals. 

It also made mention of “vital importance of adapting our technology protection toolkits” and  preventing “the leakage of sensitive and dual-use technologies to countries of concern,” which comes against the backdrop of India’s robust ties with Russia. 

New Delhi’s relations with Moscow have come under increasing scrutiny from Washington and other western partners of India since the start of the Ukraine conflict. On Sunday, India disassociated itself from a communique issued at the conclusion of a Switzerland-hosted ‘peace summit’ on Ukraine, to which Moscow was not invited.

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Meanwhile, New Delhi and Washington also stated they were “committed to take concrete action” to address long-standing barriers in bilateral strategic trade, technology, and industrial cooperation, including in the commercial and civil space sector. The joint factsheet notes that the two countries are working towards beginning advanced training for Indian astronauts at the NASA Johnson Space Center. 

According to Indian media, NASA will train two Indian astronauts, one of whom will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year. India Space Research Organization chairman S. Somanath had said before that there would likely be four astronauts sent for training. 

Four astronauts from India selected for the country’s first manned space mission, called Gaganyaan, were previously trained at Russia’s Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Training Center. This followed a 2019 agreement between New Delhi and Moscow on the selection, support, medical examination and space training of Indian astronauts. 

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Sullivan also discussed potential defense deals with Indian officials. They include acquiring US-made MQ-9B drones, the co-production of land warfare systems, and manufacturing General Electric GE-414 engines in India. The projects were discussed last year during Modi’s state visit to the US, but their status remains uncertain.

The top White House advisor’s visit took place despite tensions over accusations of “targeted killings” against the Indian government. 

Last year, US prosecutors alleged an Indian agent’s involvement in a murder plot against a New York-based lawyer and Sikh activist, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a prominent leader of the Khalistan movement and designated a “terrorist” by New Delhi.

The bilateral statement made no mention of the issue; however, media reports suggest it was raised during the discussions. US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti earlier said that the alleged plot to kill Pannun was a “red line” for Washington.

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June 19, 2024 at 12:29AM

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