`WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden will hold bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the margins of the Quad meeting in Washington on Friday, the White House revealed on Monday. Biden will also meet separately with Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, it said.
The two bilaterals are expected provide clarity, among other things, on the new AUKUS alliance involving Australia, UK, and US, aimed ostensibly at countering China's growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region. Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison is the fourth leader in the first ever in-person Quad meeting that will take place later the same day.
While AUKUS is largely a military alliance involving transfer of top-tier military technology including nuclear propulsion systems, the Quad, which is also aimed at countering China, has a largely economic orientation given Japan's non-nuclear, non-militaristic commitments and Washington's residual unease with New Delhi's defense tie-ups with Russia and France. India has often perceived the US as an unreliable and sometimes reluctant military partner whose technology transfer is constrained by legislative hurdles.
Beyond the Quad meeting, which is expected to discuss issues such as climate change, Covid-19/vaccine supply, and technology transfer issues, the bilateral between Biden and Modi is expected to center on the fallout from the US pull-out from Afghanistan, where India had a greater stake in developments than Japan and Australia. Biden is also scheduled to have a separate bilateral meetings with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
While the US-led alliances and partnerships aimed at countering China in the Indo-Pacific region are still taking shape, Beijing has moved swiftly into the vacuum arising from the American exit from Kabul, with its client state Pakistan in the lead. Both China and Pakistan have de facto recognized the Taliban regime that has seized Kabul even as the global community is in a wait and watch mode.
India's ties with the US have grown progressively stronger over the past 25 years across successive governments and administrations in both countries. But it is well short of a formal alliance given that New Delhi is not a treaty partner given India's aversion to tie itself to any one power or even bloc.
New Delhi's expansive defense ties involves -- besides the US -- Russia, France, and Israel, all of which provide India with advanced military technologies that Washington is often reluctant to part with. India's nuclear submarine program took shape largely with Russia's help, notwithstanding the more recent cooling of its ties with Moscow.