By Arun Kumar
Washington– Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s fourth visit to the US next week is seen here as consolidating and celebrating the India-US relationship that has undergone a transformation since 2000 under three presidents.
An important dimension of Modi’s June 6-8 visit at the invitation of President Barack Obama will be his address to a joint meeting of the US Congress on June 8 – eleven years after Washington revoked his visa under a religious freedom law passed by that very body.
Modi, the fifth Indian Prime Minister to address the US Congress starting with Rajiv Gandhi, will also get another rare honour – a lunch hosted by the Republican Speaker Paul Ryan and a reception by the Republican chairs and top Democrats on the House and Senate Foreign Relations panels.
“Many people have articulated that the invitation and the visit are really a part of consolidating and celebrating the India-US relationship,” said Arun Singh, Indian ambassador to the US.
The visit will consolidate “what has been achieved so far and seeing what more can be done as we move into the next year when there will be transition of the administration in the US and also elections to the US Congress”.
It will also celebrate the achievements in the relationship “because in a sense the new phase in India-US relationship was started from 2000 when President (Bill) Clinton went to India,” he noted.
Then President George W. Bush transformed it with the landmark Civil Nuclear Deal and Barack Obama with his two visits to India – including the one as chief guest at India’s Republic Day – saying the India-US relationship will be a “defining partnership of the 21st century”.
Singh also noted Obama’s articulation of support for India’s membership of the UN Security Council, US support for India’s membership of multilateral export control regimes and advances made in India-US defence partnership.
These include through the US-India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) where among others things the two sides are looking at cooperation in projects related to aircraft carrier technology and jet engine technology.
Celebrating a lot of progress made in the two Obama terms, the visit will in a sense launch into the next administration, he said. “That has been the thrust and effort related to this visit.”
The unique reception on the Capitol Hill is also seen “as a reflection of the bipartisan support in the US to the relationship”, Singh said. “It’s also a reflection of the value that people attach to this relationship.”
“Clearly people feel that India-US relationship has matured significantly,” he said citing the growth in the partnership in trade and economy, defence and technology among others.
Modi who lands in Washington on June 6 after a visit to Switzerland, will meet Obama on June 7 to review the progress made in key areas of defence, security and energy over a working lunch at the White House.
He will also have an interaction with top corporate leaders and address the annual meeting of the US India Business Council (USIBC) comprised of over 300 top American and Indian companies seeking stronger trade and commercial ties with India.