US NSA Jake Sullivan postpones India visit, second time in 2024 | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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US NSA Jake Sullivan postpones India visit, second time in 2024

Apr 16, 2024 09:51 AM IST

Sullivan was expected to be in New Delhi for a meeting with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on April 18 to review the India-US Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology

US National Security Adviser (NSA) Jake Sullivan has called off a planned visit to India this week because of spiralling tensions between Iran and Israel, the second time he has put off a trip to New Delhi this year.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan. (AP Photo)
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan. (AP Photo)

Sullivan was expected to be in New Delhi for a meeting with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on April 18 to review the India-US Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET), people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity. The visit was earlier planned for February and was called off at that time because of Sullivan’s pressing commitments.

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Tensions between Tehran and Tel Aviv hit a fresh high after Iran launched scores of drones and missiles at Israel on April 13 in retaliation to an Israeli air strike on an Iranian diplomatic complex in Syria on April 1 that killed seven people, including a senior general of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

“Due to ongoing events in the Middle East, NSA Sullivan has postponed his trip to India this week,” a US embassy spokesperson said.

Sullivan looks forward to holding the iCET annual review meeting at the “next earliest possible date and remains personally committed to advancing our deeply consequential and multi-faceted partnership with India”, the spokesperson said.

“Similarly, [US President Joe Biden] looks forward to the next meeting of the Quad leaders and continue our efforts with India to deliver results for the American and Indian people, as well as our partners, in support of our shared vision for a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” the spokesperson said.

India had invited Biden to be the chief guest at the annual Republic Day celebrations on January 26 and there were plans to hold a Quad Leaders’ Summit the following day. With Biden unable to take up the invitation, the Quad Summit is not expected to be held before November, the people said.

Sullivan’s visit had not been formally announced by both countries and he was expected to be accompanied by US deputy secretary of state Kurt Campbell, the number two diplomat in the state department.

In February, Sullivan was expected to attend the Raisina Dialogue, India’s premier geopolitical event, and co-chair a meeting with Doval to review the work done by the iCET. That time too, Sullivan had his hands full with the Ukraine conflict and the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

The iCET, launched in January 2023, is engaged in groundbreaking work in areas such as semiconductors, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, telecommunications and joint development of military hardware such as jet engines and armoured vehicles – all with an eye on the overall challenge posed by China in the Indo-Pacific Region.

While a smaller review meeting was co-chaired by deputy NSA Vikram Misri and US principal deputy NSA Jon Finer last December, the planned meeting between Doval and Sullivan was expected to carry out stock-taking and give guidance for the various programmes under iCET.

Both sides were keen to hold the iCET review meeting before India entered its general election cycle. With the Biden administration also beginning to focus on the US presidential election later this year, the window for holding the iCET review meeting will be dramatically narrowed.

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