Modi to address FedEx, Mastercard, other US CEOs at Kennedy Center -source

FILE PHOTO: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives on the first day of the budget session in New Delhi, India, January 31, 2023. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet the CEOs of top American companies including FedEx, MasterCard and Adobe during his trip to the United States for an official state visit, a source with knowledge of the matter said.

The CEO reception with more than 1,200 participants, including business leaders from U.S. and Indian companies such as Tech Mahindra and Mastek, will be held on June 23 at Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the source added.

It will follow the official state dinner on June 22 at the White House with President Joe Biden – a celebration billed as a milestone in relations between the two democracies.

Biden has been eager to strengthen ties with India as part of his bid to win what he has framed as a contest between free and autocratic societies, especially China.

Modi is not likely to directly address the threat from China in public remarks, a second source said, but he is expected to raise the issue during private discussions.

Decreasing India’s dependence on Russia for its defense needs and increasing its own manufacturing capabilities will be among the top themes discussed between the two countries, the second source said.

The Biden administration is pushing New Delhi to cut through its own red tape and advance a deal for dozens of U.S.-made armed drones, sources told Reuters.

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 the war in Ukraine. Washington has been encouraging New Delhi to do more to punish Russia for the Ukraine invasion.

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who recently visited India to make final preparations ahead of Modi’s visit, said the United States is set to remove obstacles that prevent smoother trade with India in critical areas such as defense and high technology.

The U.S. became India’s largest trading partner in fiscal year 2022-23 as bilateral trade rose by almost 8% to $128.55 billion, according to data from India’s Ministry of Commerce. The rise is in contrast to the 1.5% fall in India-China trade to $113.83 billion in the same fiscal year.

Other key issues to be discussed, according to the second source, are how to spur chip manufacturing in India and lower its dependence on China for electronics. The countries will also discuss artificial intelligence, quantum computing and cybersecurity along with work visas for Indian workers.

Biden is expected to make his own trip to New Delhi in September for the G20 meetings hosted by India.



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