U.S., India partnership targets arms, AI to compete with China

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G20 summit in Bali
President of the U.S. Joe Biden speaks with Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi at the G20 Summit opening session in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. PRASETYO UTOMO/G20 Media Center/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT./File Photo

WASHINGTON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - The White House is launching a partnership with India on Tuesday that President Joe Biden hopes will help the countries compete against China on military equipment, semiconductors and artificial intelligence.

Washington wants to deploy more Western mobile phone networks in the subcontinent to counter China's Huawei Technologies, to welcome more Indian computer chip specialists to the United States and to encourage companies from both countries to collaborate on military equipment such as artillery systems.

The White House faces an uphill battle on each front, including U.S. restrictions on military technology transfer and visas for immigrant workers, along with India's longstanding dependence on Moscow for military hardware.

Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval, are meeting with senior officials from both countries at the White House on Tuesday to launch the U.S.-India Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies.

"The larger challenge posed by China - its economic practices, its aggressive military moves, its efforts to dominate the industries of the future and to control the supply chains of the future - have had a profound impact on the thinking in Delhi," Sullivan said.

Doval will also meet Secretary of State Anthony Blinken during his three-day visit to Washington D.C., which ends Wednesday.

New Delhi has frustrated Washington by participating in military exercises with Russia and increasing purchases of the country's crude oil, a key source of funding for Russia's war in Ukraine. But Washington has held its tongue, nudging the country on Russia while condoning India's more hawkish stance on China.

On Monday, Sullivan and Doval participated in a Chamber of Commerce event with corporate leaders from Lockheed Martin Corp, (LMT.N) Adani Enterprises (ADEL.NS) and Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT.O)

Although India is part of the Biden administration's signature Asian engagement project, the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), it has opted against joining the IPEF trade pillar negotiations.

The initiative also includes a joint effort on space and high-performance quantum computing.

General Electric Co, (GE.N) meanwhile, is asking the U.S. government for permission to produce jet engines with India that would power aircraft operated and produced by India, according to the White House, which says a review is underway.

New Delhi said that the U.S. government would review General Electric’s application expeditiously and that the two countries would focus on joint production of “key items of mutual interest” in defense.

The two countries also established a quantum technology coordination mechanism and agreed to set up a task force with India’s Semiconductor Mission, the India Electronics Semiconductor Association (IESA) and the U.S. Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) to promote the development of semiconductor ecosystems.

India’s space program will work with NASA on human space flight opportunities and other projects, the Indian statement said.

Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by Krishn Kaushik in Delhi; Editing by Chris Sanders, Josie Kao, Himani Sarkar, Y.P. Rajesh and Gerry Doyle

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