By Mike Stone
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -White House officials met on Monday with about a dozen leaders from venture capital firms and the technology and defense industries in an effort to reinforce the Biden administration's interest in supporting Ukraine's access to cutting-edge U.S. equipment, senior administration officials said.
"The conversation focused on a number of systems, including, unmanned aerial systems, how to counter incoming unmanned aerial systems, and then also addressing the demining challenge," one of the officials told a group of reporters during a telephone call following the five-hour meeting.
Jake Sullivan, head of the White House National Security Council, convened the meeting to push for a "renewed emphasis on helping Ukraine overcome these key technological challenges that they have identified as inhibiting their progress and momentum on the battlefield," a second administration official said.
Key members of the National Security Council met with industry executives from Fortem Aerospace, defense technology companies like Palantir Technologies Inc, and Anduril Industries Inc, as well as drone maker Skydio among others who were brought to the White House.
Jake Sullivan attended at least some of the event - as did his deputy, Jon Finer, who led a portion the meeting, one of the officials said.
The administration officials said Monday's meeting gave them an opportunity to learn about new capabilities from a deeper cross section of U.S. industry in the hopes that the government could facilitate bringing those innovations to bear for Ukraine.
The officials stressed that any effort to support Ukraine would be curbed without the more than $100 billion supplemental aid package President Joe Biden has urged lawmakers to pass which includes about $50 billion in new security aid for Ukraine as it fights Russia, as well as $14 billion for Israel as it wages war against Hamas in Gaza.
The officials said this effort was separate from the December agreement to speed weapons co-production and data sharing between the U.S. and Ukraine.
(Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Sandra Maler)