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HindustanTimes Wed,20 Aug 2014

Obama calls Modi, ‘welcomes’ him to Washington

Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times  Washington, May 16, 2014
First Published: 23:37 IST(16/5/2014) | Last Updated: 07:29 IST(17/5/2014)

US president Barack Obama on Friday called Narendra Modi to congratulate him on the BJP’s success in the elections and invited him to visit Washington at a mutually agreeable time.

“The President noted he looks forward to working closely with Mr. Modi to fulfill the extraordinary promise of the US-India strategic partnership, and they agreed to continue expanding and deepening the wide-ranging cooperation between our two democracies,” said the White House in a readout of the phone call that was made late at night (India time).

“The President invited Narendra Modi to visit Washington at a mutually agreeable time to further strengthen our bilateral relationship,” the White House added.

The president’s call is being taken as a move in the right direction to, one, pull relations between the two countries out it its current indifference trap.

And, two, to make it up to Modi who has been denied a visa to visit the US since 2005, when his application for an official visa was rejected in the aftermath of the Gujarat riots.

Earlier, White House press secretary Jay Carney had said Modi was welcome to visit the US, and added that “Once the government is formed, we look forward to working closely with the prime minister and the cabinet to advance our strong bilateral relationship based on shared democratic values.”

Secretary of state John Kerry congratulated Modi, on Twitter, saying, “Congrats to @narendramodi and BJP. Look forward to working w/you/growing shared prosperity/security w/world's largest democracy.”

The White House National Security Council was the first to post a congratulatory tweet in the morning once it was clear the BJP would be forming the next government with Modi as prime minister. But that tweet had raised questions if that’s all the response will from the US, given recent tensions.

There was no mention of Modi. There was also no word on whether President Obama will call Modi to congratulate him personally, as had other world leaders.

The US president has not always made that call on the day or night of elections results. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, for instance, received a congratulatory call almost a week after his re-election in 2009.

Obama called Singh on May 23, after the latter was sworn in. The election results had been known by then for a week. It was in that call that Obama invited Singh to visit the United States, and the prime minister did, famously as the Obamas’ first state guest.

But this time, the president welcomed the successful completion of the elections, and saying he was ready to work with the next government, in a statement issued on the last of polling, and after the exit polls , almost all of whom forecast a resounding victory for the BJP, making Modi the next occupant of 7, Race Course Road.


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