What is I2U2 Summit? Know key details about the four-nation grouping | India News

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join US President Joe Biden, Israeli PM Yair Lapid and UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the first virtual summit of ‘I2U2’ on Thursday. The leaders of the four-nation grouping are expected to discuss joint economic projects to bolster economic cooperation under the framework of the coalition. Notably, the global food and energy crisis arising out of the Ukraine conflict is likely to figure prominently during the virtual summit, which is expected to commence around 4 pm.

US President Joe Biden will convene the maiden virtual Summit with Prime Ministers of India, Israel and the President of UAE during his upcoming visit next month to the Middle East, said an ANI report. According to the White House, the meeting of I2U2 was a part of the Biden administration`s effort to revitalize American partnerships across the world. I2U2 leaders would discuss the food security crisis in the wake of the Ukraine war and other areas of cooperation.

What is ‘I2U2’ Summit 

The four-nation grouping is known as ‘I2U2’ with “I” standing for India and Israel and “U” for the US and the UAE.  I2U2 is aimed to encourage joint investments in six mutually identified areas such as water, energy, transportation, space, health, and food security.

The group 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 (MEA) on Tuesday said, “The leaders will discuss the possible joint projects within the framework of ‘I2U2’ as well as the other common areas of mutual interest to strengthen the economic partnership in trade and investment in our respective regions and beyond.” 

Also read: PM Modi to participate in first I2U2 Summit along with Israel, UAE and US virtually today

According to the MEA, the I2U2 grouping was conceptualised during the meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries held on October 18 last year, as India’s bilateral strategic ties with each of the three countries are on an upswing in the last few years.

According to reports, leaders will discuss the possible joint projects within the framework of I2U2 as well as the other common areas of mutual interest to strengthen the economic \partnership in trade and investment in respective regions and beyond. These projects can serve as a model for economic cooperation and offer opportunities for our businesspersons and workers, according to the MEA statement.

Israel sees India’s partnership as a ‘game changer’ in I2U2

Ahead of the I2U2 Summit’s first high-level meeting, a former Israeli National Security Adviser has opined that the formation of the new grouping is a significant development where India’s partnership can prove to be a “game changer”.

As Israel prepares to welcome US President Joe Biden on Wednesday in a packed three-day programme that includes a high-level meeting of the new I2U2 forum in which Prime Minister Modi would participate virtually, Israel’s former National Security Adviser, Maj Gen Yaakov Amidror told PTI that “India can also help to enhance and expand the scope of Abraham accords bringing in new countries”. “It has the ability to push others by saying that it is in the interest of the world,” said Amidror.

Experts believe that the I2U2 grouping has the potential to build on the Abraham accords to expand regional partnership beyond the Middle East, specifically on energy, tech and economic issues.

With the Russian-Ukrainian war posing new challenges in the energy market in Europe and in the Middle East, Amidror said that Greece, Cyprus and Israel working together on natural gas pipeline projects can be an important development also in the context of the I2U2 discussions, adding “Add India to this new situation, where Israel is a bridge with Europe and India another big trading partner in the whole context – it will be a game changer.”

India’s strategic importance at I2U2

The US administration has offered a full-throated justification for elevating ties with India, especially through multilateral platforms such as the newly launched I2U2 that the two countries form with Israel and the UAE, and the Quad with Japan and Australia calling India the “most strategically consequential countries in the Indo-Pacific”.

Earlier, the US had set up the Quad, the Asian Pacific Quad, with the US, Australia, India and Japan which is also seen by many as a forum to counter Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

India`s “longstanding” ties in West Asia and with Israel were cited as reasons for the Biden administration involving India in the I2U2, which will hold its first-ever summit in a four-way virtual meeting later Wednesday with Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid joining from Israel. Notably, US President Joe Biden is for the next few days on his first trip to the region.

Accompanying President Biden, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Wednesday told reporters that a “significant announcement” is expected to be made at the I2U2 summit on food security, which, he had said earlier, would be the focus of the first-ever summit of the new body.

Sullivan was more expansive about the Biden administration`s approach to India in response to a specific question about India`s involvement in all of the President`s recent foreign policy initiatives such as I2U2 and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity, which is designed to offer countries a sustainable alternative to China`s predatory Belt and Road Initiative. 

Citing India`s “longstanding” ties to the West Asia region (called the Middle East by the rest of the world) and “a relationship over the years” with Israel, Sullivan is quoted by IANS as saying, “just as the United States can play a critical and central role in helping deepen Israel`s integration into the region, India has a role to play in that as well”.

The I2U2 can become “a feature of the broader region, just as the Quad has become a central pillar of the Indo-Pacific strategy of the United States”, Sullivan further added. 

(With Inputs from Agencies)