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I2U2 Leaders’ Summit: Stage set for a $2 billion agri-parks project in India to tackle food crisis

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the US President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington in September 2021 (PIB file photo)

Tackling the global food security crisis and working together to advance clean energy is expected to be at the top of the agenda when Prime Minister Narendra Modi participates virtually in the first Leaders' Summit of the I2U2 grouping along with US President Joe Biden, Israeli PM Yair Lapid and the UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan later today.

 Calling it "a unique grouping of countries", the White House revealed last night that a $2 billion project – which the UAE is helping to fund for agricultural parks in India and is focused on the food security challenge – will be one of the major things that will be announced by the leaders of Israel, India, and the UAE.

"It's a $2 billion project that the UAE is funding for agricultural parks in India. We'll have some more details about it tomorrow. And Israel lending some of its technological expertise and then also some support from the US private sector," said a senior Biden administration official.

The US President arrived in Tel Aviv on Wednesday and is scheduled to hold interactions with a dozen heads of state over the course of his three-day tour of the Middle East.  

The White House believes that it's an "interesting moment" for Biden to be in the region because the Middle East countries are lending their resources, ingenuity, and innovation to tackle the current global challenges and crisis.

And, the "pretty unique, collaborative effort" – as the US terms the grouping of India-Israel-UAE-USA leaders – is capable of tackling current challenges by pulling people, ideas, governments, and private sectors together.

"We'll continue to advance Israel's integration into the region; expand emerging forums and engagement — like the new I2U2 Summit, which will bring Israel, the United States, the UAE together, and India as well — to deepen economic cooperation between the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific," remarked Biden after arriving at the Ben Gurion Airport on Wednesday.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, the new grouping – which was conceptualized during the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the four countries last October – indicates the link-up of important US partners in the region to solve problems together and also contain the surge of extremism across the region – from Turkey to Afghanistan – more effectively.

However, even as the leaders focus on areas of cooperation across hemispheres, the geopolitical landscape has changed a lot since External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Lapid, who was then the Israeli Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister, met virtually on October 18, 2021 to discuss "shared issues of concern" in the region and globally.

"I2U2 is aimed to encourage joint investments in six mutually identified areas such as water, energy, transportation, space, health, and food security. It intends to mobilize private sector capital and expertise to help modernize the infrastructure, low carbon development pathways for our industries, improve public health, and promote the development of critical emerging and green technologies," the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement ahead of today's meeting.

As they discuss common areas of mutual interest to strengthen the economic partnership in trade and investment in respective regions and beyond, it will be interesting to see if the Leaders pave the way for a possible future formation of a Quad 2.0 alliance, or the West Asia Quad Alliance as some like to call it.

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