A private dinner, two meetings for Modi and Obama

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Sep 09, 2014 15:00 IST

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes to the United States end of this month, he will have at least two meetings with President Barack Obama over as many days.

They are scheduled to meet the first time on the night of September 29, after Modi arrives in DC winding up his three-day tour of New York city.

This is a private dinner the president is hosting for the Prime Minister at the White House, just across the road from where Modi will be staying, Blair House.

“President Obama looks forward to welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India to the White House on September 29-30, 2014,” said the White House on Monday.

It didn’t mention the dinner, but did confirm the White House will host the prime minister twice, on September 29 and 30. The first these visits will be private dinner, confirmed a source.

According to the White House the two leaders will discuss “a range of issues of mutual interest in order to expand and deepen the US-India strategic partnership”.

“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.”

They will also discuss Afghanistan, which the United States is exiting according to pre-determined calendar by the end, a situation keenly watched by India.

And Syria and Iraq, chief US headaches currently.

The White House said India and the United States “can work together with partners towards a positive outcome” in these regions, going beyond standard expression of concern.

These issues were discussed at the India-US strategic dialogue in New Delhi last July. But the situation in the Iraq-Syria region has changed dramatically for the US since.

Starting August 8, the US has been carrying out airstrikes against ISIS positions in Iraq, getting dragged back into a war President Obama had declared over in 2011.

He is now under pressure, since the beheading of two American journalists by the ISIS, to do more. He is expected to announce expanded military action on Wednesday.

The ISIS is a matter of concern for India as well. It is holding 39 Indian construction workers employed by a Turkish company for a project in Mosul, which the outfit took in July.

Washington DC red carpet

* On September 29, Prime Minister Modi checks into Blair House, where visiting state guests have traditionally been hosted by US presidents; just across the road from the White House.

* The two leaders will have delegation level meeting the next day, on September 30.

* Followed by a formal lunch hosted by Vice-President Joe Biden for the prime minister at the State Department, also a tradition for visiting state guests, though not all.

* House speaker John Boehner and other congressional leaders will meet the prime minister on Capitol Hill, according to congressional sources.

* In the evening, just before ending his US visit, Modi will receive a group of private sector head honchoes coordinated by the US-India Business Council.

New (York) deal

* Modi delivers his maiden address to the UN General Assembly on September 27, in Hindi.

* Followed by a string of bilateral meetings — work in progress — and a meeting of the G-4 countries that are together lobbying for permanent seats on the UN Security Council — India, Japan, Germany and Brazil.

* A grand public event at the Madison Square Garden is scheduled for September 28, a Sunday, where he will interact with the Indian American community.

* Followed by a dinner at The Pierre, an upscale Manhattan hotel owned by India’s Taj group, hosted by the Indian ambassador for the Prime Minister, and friends of India.

* Modi will also have an expansive meeting with business leaders, details of which were first published in Hindustan Times.

* And, before leaving New York for Washington DC on September 29, the prime minister will deliver a policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations. It was at another think tank in New York in 2000 — Asia Society— that then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee called India and the US “natural allies”, re-defining relations between the two countries.

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