Biden dispatches Jake Sullivan to India

 June 8, 2023

President Biden will send his national security adviser Jake Sullivan to India to prepare for prime minister Narendra Modi's upcoming state visit to Washington.

Sullivan will "meet with Indian officials to discuss deepening collaboration across critical areas of importance between the US and India," the administration said.

Biden is aiming to strengthen diplomatic ties with India as part of a broader effort to contain China in the Indo-Pacific region.

Sullivan will confirm the goals of the upcoming June 22 visit and make sure "that we're moving in the right direction," Reuters reported.

Heading to India

While Biden has kept friendly relations with Modi, they have been strained by India's ambivalence toward Russia.

Biden has made much ado about the world's "democracies" standing up to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but India has failed to condemn it and has even ramped up trade with Russia.

The state visit has also been criticized by those who say Biden is going soft on an illiberal leader with a mixed "human rights" record.

Biden official John Kirby was questioned about the "health" of India's democracy days ago.

"India is a strong partner on very, very many levels with the United States," he said. "India is a vibrant democracy.  Any — anybody that, you know, happens to go to New Delhi can see that for themselves."

Biden touts U.S. ties to India

India is part of the Quad, a strategic partnership that includes the U.S., India, Australia, and Japan and which Biden recently incorrectly took credit for starting.

Biden is looking to undercut India's military reliance on Russia with a new deal allowing General Electric to build jet engines for India's military in India.

Ahead of the June 22 visit, the tone from both partners has been warm and amiable. 

India said the "historic visit offers a valuable opportunity for India and the US to further deepen a comprehensive and forward-looking global strategic partnership," while the White House said the meeting "will affirm the deep and close partnership between the United States and India."

After the tragic train wreck last week that killed nearly 300 people in India, Biden went out of his way to share his "heartbreak" over the disaster.

“The United States and India share deep bonds rooted in the ties of family and culture that unite our two nations—and people all across America mourn alongside the people of India,” Biden added. “As the recovery effort continues, we will hold the people of India in our thoughts.”

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