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US confirms Powell-Modi meet

The United States on Monday confirmed its ambassador in India will be meeting Narendra Modi, ending its nine-year-long boycott of the BJP leader who could become prime minister.

world Updated: Feb 11, 2014 21:49 IST
Yashwant Raj

The United States on Monday confirmed its ambassador in India will be meeting Narendra Modi, ending its nine-year-long boycott of the BJP leader who could become prime minister.

“We can confirm the appointment,” said the state department spokesperson, referring to a report in Hindustan Times about ambassador Nancy Powell meeting Modi.

“This is part of our concerted outreach to senior political and business leaders which began in November to highlight the US-India relationship,” the spokesperson added.

The United States had been increasingly uncomfortable with its boycott — and denial of visa — in recent months, specially after the BJP named Modi its candidate for the top job.

Modi was denied an official US visa in 2005, and his tourist visa was cancelled, over the 2002 riots in Gujarat. Many other countries had decided to boycott him too.

And then the siege broke, making it an inevitability for the US.

“This is the right first step, in my opinion,” said Richard Rossow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He added, “Not sure we will see any further outreach beyond this ahead of the election, at least by Administration officials, but it’s a start.”

As the Hindustan Times report said the US may not want to do more at this stage in order to be not seen taking sides in an election, which is due around April-May.

But just the fact that ambassador Powell was meeting Modi was enough for his supporters here.

“I am glad that the US acknowledges the possibility of seeing Narendra Modi as the next PM of India,” said Utsav Chakravarty, of VHP-America.