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SOURCE: ANI

Expressing concern over media coverage, US-India Business Council (USIBC) President Ambassador Atul Keshap criticised certain outlets on Thursday (local time) for spreading “uninformed, erroneous gossip” without fact-checking. While championing the principles of free and independent media, he stressed the need for responsible journalism, especially when dealing with sensitive topics such as defence deals between nations.

“What I find interesting is there’s a lot of absolutely uninformed, erroneous gossip being spread in media organs that, frankly, have a track record of not checking their facts and stories are completely at variance with the actual facts… but people ought to do the bare minimum of fact checking before they go out and publish what is essentially erroneous gossip,” Keshap said in a recent interview with ANI.

The Biden administration has today notified the US Congress of its intent to sell nearly 4 billion dollars’ worth of arms, comprising mainly MQ-9B drones armed with Hellfire missiles. Keshap also shed light on the complexities of arms deals between democracies, emphasising the transparency and rule of law integral to the process. Ambassador Keshap highlighted the importance of a systematic approach, involving the executive, legislative, and judicial branches in the US, in evaluating and approving arms deals. He underlined that the ongoing drone deal follows the same procedural steps as any other defence agreement.

Switching gears to the broader India-US relationship, Keshap noted the positive momentum in both governments’ efforts to implement the joint statement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden. Despite impending elections in both countries, Keshap observed a shared commitment to advancing the strategic partnership. “It is clear that both governments, even as we have our big elections in both of our countries, are focused on implementation of the roadmap set out in the Joint Statement between your prime minister and my president on all of the ways that we’re going to take the relationship forward,” said Keshap.

The President of USIBC conveyed optimism regarding the ongoing collaboration in areas such as ISET, Indus X, and the innovation handshake. He highlighted progress in key sectors like semiconductors, cybersecurity, outer space, and defence enterprises. “We all have plans to operationalise this cooperation on semiconductors, on cybersecurity, outer space, defence enterprises, the defence deals are moving forward.

There’s a real sense that we have to put the meat on the bones of this joint statement, and both governments are doing it and both private sectors are doing it,” he also said. Keshap commended the serious work happening on the ground, showcasing the resilience and strength of the strategic relationship between India and the United States. “We have more and more Indian leading companies joining our board because USIBC is where a lot of this work is converging. And I see a lot of movement, a lot of intent by both governments to make the most of the ground game in US India relations in an election year, even as know systems are focused on elections,” the USIBC President added. As the US-India partnership navigates through election cycles, Ambassador Atul Keshap emphasised the continuous convergence of interests and the unwavering commitment of both nations to address challenges and deepen cooperation.