WASHINGTON: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for years barred from visiting the United States, will meet President Barack Obama in two days of eagerly awaited White House talks at the end of the month.
The meetings, on September 29 and 30, will take place on Modi’s first visit to Washington since he led his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a crushing victory in May’s elections.
Modi was told in 2005 by the administration of president George W. Bush that he would be refused a visa to visit the United States, after being accused of not intervening to stop riots by Hindu extremists against minority Muslims when he was chief minister of Gujarat state.
He has denied doing anything wrong during the 2002 riots, which caught the eye of Washington following the passage of a law intended to outlaw violators of religious freedom.
When it became clear last year that Modi was positioned to become India’s next prime minister, the current White House, which sees India as a key pivot in its policy of rebalancing diplomatic power towards Asia, signaled that Modi would have no problem setting foot on US soil.
“The two leaders will discuss a range of issues of mutual interest in order to expand and deepen the US-India strategic partnership,” said a White House statement.
“They will discuss ways to accelerate economic growth, bolster security cooperation, and collaborate in activities that bring long-term benefits to both countries and the world.
Obama and Modi will also discuss regional issues, including in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.
“The president looks forward to working with the prime minister to fulfill the promise of the US-India strategic partnership for the benefit of both our citizens and the world.”