NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is staying at the Blair House, the US President’s Guest House, located across his official residence the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue during his two-day visit to Washington DC.
Blair House, built as a private home in 1824, has played a key role in the past 190 years of the political, diplomatic and cultural history of the USA.
Modi’s predecessor Manmohan Singh had preferred to stay in a hotel during most of his visit to Washington. Prime Minister Modi will be the fifth Indian prime minister to address the US Congress after Rajiv Gandhi, PV Narsimha Rao, AB Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh.
It could well be an irony that former US President George Bush didn’t get to address the joint session of Indian Parliament. Addressing such a session reflects the high level of importance, a country attaches to the visiting dignitary.
Modi began his US trip with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, the United States military cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. He is the third Indian prime minister to visit the cemetery after Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.
This is Modi’s fourth visit to the US since he took office two years ago, and his seventh meeting with Obama.
In Washington, he will also meet congressional leaders and top business officials.
Modi is on a five-nation tour that has also taken him to Switzerland, Afghanistan and Qatar. After the US, he will visit Mexico.