PM Narendra Modi invited to address joint session of the US Congress

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Modi invited to address joint session of the US Congress
Washington, June 21: The United States has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address a joint session of the US Congress during a visit to Washington in September, said a Reuters report.

The decision to invite Modi was taken after California Republican Ed Royce, chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote to House Speaker John Boehner on Friday.

"In every aspect - whether it be in political, economic or security relations - the United States has no more important partner in South Asia," the letter said. "It is not an overstatement to say that the US-India relationship will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century."

Modi, US in the past

In 2005, President George W Bush administration had denied Modi a visa to US under a 1998 US law barring entry to foreigners who have committed "particularly severe violations of religious freedom."

This was an after-effect of Gujarat riot in 2002.

In 2014, after BJP swept the general elections, US President Barack Obama congratulated Modi and invited him to the White House.Modi's predecessor Manmohan Singh was the last Indian Prime Minister to address a joint session of the US Congress when he visited Washington in 2005.

The two lawmakers said they were optimistic that the mandate given to "Modi will help India thrive economically" as "Under Mr. Modi's leadership, the state of Gujarat has flourished."

"Home to a mere five percent of the country's population, Gujarat now accounts for nearly 25 percent of all Indian exports. Poverty rates have fallen dramatically, and infrastructure has grown impressively," they noted.

Taking note of Modi's business friendly image, the lawmakers said: "Importantly, Modi has promised to focus on private enterprise, reduce bureaucracy, and strengthen trade ties with major partners."

"Since 2001, US-India trade has experienced impressive growth, but our commercial relationship remains far below the scale of our markets," they said

But "Modi's commitment to cut the red tape that has long plagued our trade relationship gives reason for hope that our economic partnership will flourish."

Saying Modi's upcoming visit would "undoubtedly be a seminal event for the nation's vibrant Indian American community," Royce and Holding vowed to work with the speaker to "ensure that this trip is a success."

In 2013, the Wharton India Economic Forum (WIEF), an annual India-centric conference hosted by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, canceled the keynote address by Modi after opposition by several Indian-American professors. 

Also, a total of 65 MPs wrote a letter to US President Barack Obama in late 2012 against granting Narendra Modi a US visa. (Read IBN Live article here)

Oneindia News

(With IANS inputs)

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