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Apple, Google, Microsoft CEOs attend Modi dinner at White House

Silicon Valley’s biggest names descended on Washington Thursday as President Joe Biden sought to strengthen tech industry ties between the US and India at a state dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

At the White House, corporate executives attending the event included Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, Alphabet Inc. CEO Sundar Pichai and Microsoft Corp. chief Satya Nadella. They were joined by celebrities including Billie Jean King and Ralph Lauren at the third state dinner of Biden’s presidency.

Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries Limited; General Electric Co. CEO Larry Culp; Boeing Co. CEO David Calhoun; Bain Capital’s Josh Bekenstein; Flex CEO Revathi Advaithi; and Sam Altman of OpenAI also landed coveted invitations to the lavish event, celebrating Modi’s first official state visit to the US.

Among the celebrities from the entertainment world were filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, Netflix Inc. Chief Content Officer Bela Bajaria, and media scion James Murdoch.

The presence of corporate executives at Thursday’s event highlighted Modi’s efforts to establish India as a manufacturing and technology partner for the US, part of a broader effort to ramp up New Delhi’s diplomatic and economic engagements around the globe.

Also at the dinner were members of the president’s family, including his son, Hunter Biden, days after he struck a plea agreement over federal tax and gun charges.

To accommodate Modi, a vegetarian, First Lady Jill Biden worked with guest chef Nina Curtis, a Sacramento, California-based culinary artist known for her innovative plant-based cuisine, to build the menu.

Guests are dining on a marinated millet and grilled corn kernel salad and compressed watermelon for the first course. The main course includes stuffed portobello mushrooms and a creamy saffron-induced risotto. Attendees also have the option of requesting a sumac-roasted sea bass. For dessert, the guests will dine on rose and cardamom-infused strawberry shortcake.

Also at the dinner were Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano; former American Express Co. CEO Kenneth Chenault; Applied Materials CEO Gary Dickerson; Sanjay Mehrotra of Micron Technology Inc.

The evening’s entertainment will be provided by Joshua Bell, a Grammy-award winning American violinist and conductor; Penn Masala, a South Asian a cappella group founded by students at the University of Pennsylvania; and the United States Marine Band Chamber Orchestra.

At a joint press conference earlier Thursday, US President Joe Biden and Modi touted a series of commercial deals spanning the technology, aerospace and defense industries, including an agreement for General Electric and state-owned Indian company Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. to jointly manufacture F414 engines for light-combat aircraft; a deal for MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones made by General Atomics; and Micron’s plans for a $2.75 billion semiconductor assembly and testing facility in India.

India is vying to become a key US partner in semiconductor chip manufacturing and other critical technology. High on the agenda for Modi’s visit was removing regulatory constraints in India, particularly for tech companies, in a bid to make it easier for US firms to invest in the subcontinent.

Earlier in the week, Modi courted Elon Musk, who said after meeting the prime minister that Tesla Inc. is considering a significant investment in India.

Earlier: Modi Looks to Solidify India’s Tech Ambition With US Visit

Throughout the trip, Modi and Biden have emphasized comity and partnership even as the US and India diverge over issues ranging from human rights to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Delhi has refused to condemn. The farthest Modi would go in his criticism of the US approach to Ukraine was a mild jab in a speech he delivered to Congress before the state dinner.

“I will now say it directly and publicly — this is not an era of war but one of dialogue and diplomacy and we all must do what we can to stop bloodshed and human suffering,” Modi said in the speech. Bloomberg

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