India and the US are exploring new educational exchanges, steps to facilitate travel between the two countries and ways to reduce visa wait times, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said. The two are also promoting innovation through cooperation in semiconductors, advanced biotechnology, clean energy and space.

“There is one thing we learnt over the recent decades. When Indians and Americans study together, work together, and collaborate together, the possibilities for progress are infinite,” Blinken emphasised in his opening statement at the US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in New Delhi on Friday.

Blinken and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin participated in the 5th US-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue with their counterparts Jaishankar, and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

“Our trade is today in excess of $200 billion... 2,70,000 Indian students study in the US, and we have a diaspora of 4.4 million,” Jaishankar said highlighting the potential for growth. PM Modi’s state visit to the US in June opened a new chapter in the India-US relationship, he said.

Tie-up in semiconductors

Elaborating on the scope for cooperation in semiconductors at a press briefing following the 2+2 Dialogue, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said it is an area which has shown strong achievement in the last 4-5 months the two sides were confident that the 2+2 discussions would give further impetus to it. 

“Semiconductor space is not just a monolith limited to chip manufacturing, which is of course often most talked about. There are elements which relate to stages which are precursor to chip manufacturing. Our cooperation with Micron is one of the important segments of that. Training and capacity building in that space is a  crucial area of semi conductor and there is very intense, and it forms a strong and wide base of discussion between india and the US. It involves the two  two governments, because it does have some regulatory aspects, but also involving businesses on the two sides,” Kwatra said.

The 2+2 Dialogue undertook a comprehensive review of bilateral relations and discussed multiple partnerships in the areas of trade and investment, technology, and critical and emerging technologies, Kwatra pointed out.

“Value and supply chain securitisation of different products and services, partnership in the field of space, our continuing engagement in the field of mineral securities, our common efforts in combating terrorism – these and much more formed part of the overview of bilateral relationship that was undertaken by the principals earlier in the 2+2 dialogue,” he added.

Visa time

Blinken’s remarks on facilitating travel and reducing waiting time for visas are important as businesses in India have been complaining about long waiting periods. 

The two sides also discussed the on-going conflict between Israel and Palestine and shared perspectives and Russia’s war on Ukraine.

India also shared its concerns with the US on pro-Khalistani terrorist activities in Canada especially in the light of a threat video from Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) leader Gurpatwant Singh  asking Sikhs not to travel via Air India flights after November 19, Kwatra said.