US, India agree to boost cooperation in space, technology during Modi’s visit

Washington/New Delhi, Jun 22 (EFE).- The United States and India on Thursday agreed to boost cooperation in the space sector and technology by signing several agreements and initiatives during the US visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India is set to join the Artemis Accords, aimed at facilitating international cooperation for the next Moon landing and prepare a future voyage to Mars, while the NASA is also set to work with the Indian space agency to send a mission to the International Space Station in 2024.

Meanwhile US firm Micron Technology would invest $800 million to build a semiconductor manufacturing plant in India, and Washington would back New Delhi’s entry into the Minerals Security Partnership, an international coalition that seeks to ensure access to strategic minerals.

A high-level US official told reporters that the defense alliance between the US and India has grown increasingly stronger over the years but now it was entering a “new generation.”

According to unconfirmed reports in Indian media outlets, Modi and US President Joe Biden are set to announce New Delhi’s purchase of 31 American-built unmanned aircrafts worth around $3 billion.

They are also set to oversee an agreement between US firm General Electric and India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to build F414 fighter plane engines in the South Asian nation.

Although US-China tensions and New Delhi’s unwavering ties with Russia after the latter’s Ukraine invasion would be discussed during the meetings, US officials have insisted in recent days that Modi’s visit is mainly aimed at deepening bilateral ties.

Another aspect in focus during the visit are the allegations by several human rights groups that the Modi-led Indian government has adopted discriminatory polices towards Muslims and tried to stifle dissent.

Senior US officials have admitted the possibility of protests against the Indian leader in Washington during his meeting with Biden, even as several progressive lawmakers of the US House of Representatives such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar have announced that they would boycott Modi’s speech in the Congress.

An Indian government official confirmed to EFE that Modi is set to hold an interaction with the press on Thursday along with Biden, marking his first-ever press conference after facing criticism by the Indian opposition for never taking direct questions from journalists.

This is the second US visit by the controversial leader, who has been accused of ignoring or even promoting violence against minorities by Hindu extremists since 2001 – when he was the head of a province – and had even faced a visa ban by the US before he assumed office, for violating religious freedom.

After meeting Biden and addressing the Congress, Modi will attend a state dinner at the White House in his honor, the third to be offered by Biden since he became president. EFE


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