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India, US to expand defence ties in cyber, space domains; New Delhi to join West-led Bahrain-based naval force

Source : The Tribune

India, US to expand defence ties in cyber, space domains; New Delhi to join West-led Bahrain-based naval force
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Joe Biden during Bilateral talks on the sidelines of Quad Summit in Japan



New Delhi: India crossed a Rubicon by agreeing to join the Combined Military Forces-Bahrain (CMF–Bahrain) as an associate member following a summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden, who said he is committed to making India-US ties the “closest on the planet”.

They also committed to deepen their ‘Major Defence Partnership’ by expanding cooperation in new domains, including space and cyber, and launching a dialogue on Artificial Intelligence this year.

The two leaders also resolved to encourage greater economic engagement and expand their partnership on health, pandemic, and critical and emerging technologies, said a White House statement.

“India-US ties are in true sense a partnership of trust,” PM Modi told Biden, adding that “our common interest and shared values have strengthened”.

Biden condemned Russia’s “unjustifiable” war against Ukraine and while PM Modi refrained from doing so, both committed to humanitarian assistance, and discussed how to cooperate to manage disruptions caused by the conflict, in particular the rise in energy and food prices.

The two leaders touched in detail on cooperation in critical technologies, an area of acute interest to India. Both sides have acknowledged its importance with the launch of a US-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) which plans to join six of India’s technology innovation hubs to support at least 25 joint research projects this year. The areas, to begin with, are AI and data science.

President Biden welcomed India’s decision to join the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, and expressed confidence that India’s participation would help ensure an open, connected and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

They also touched on three areas which were finalised in Tokyo. The first is the establishment of the Indo-Pacific partnership for maritime domain awareness which will play a key role in preserving economic security (keeping an eye on illegal Chinese fishing) and in responding to humanitarian crises. The second is a pact to enable the US development institution DFC to keep investing in Indian private sector-led projects in critical areas such as renewable energy, agriculture, health, and SME financing. The third is to expand collaboration in antimicrobial resistance, as well as diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

The two countries are also renewing the Indo-US Vaccine Action Programme, which since its establishment led to the manufacture of India’s first indigenous and low-cost vaccines, said the White House.

CMF-Bahrain

Also called the Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150), it is a West-led 34-nation coalition to monitor, board, inspect, and stop suspect shipping to pursue the ‘Global War on Terrorism’ and in the Horn of Africa region. India has sporadically participated in its operations as has Pakistan.

Operating since 1991, the rechristened CMF-Bahrain has intercepted illegal shipments of drugs, firearms and pirate ships. But it has also intervened in regional conflicts and faced embarrassment such as being forced to allow a consignment of North Korean missiles to sail through to Yemen after having boarded the ship amidst much publicity.

As an associate member, India will not have the rotating command nor get a front seat in some of the deliberations associated with operations.

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