Washington: Four American lawmakers have written to US House Speaker Paul Ryan asking him to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address a joint meeting of the US Congress during his state visit to Washington on June 7-8.
“Given the depth of our relationship with India across a range of areas — defense, humanitarian and disaster relief, space cooperation, conservation, and innovation, — we believe this is an ideal opportunity for the Congress to hear directly from the Prime Minister,” the Congressmen said in their letter to Ryan, adding that since the US-India relationship consistently garners strong bipartisan support, “inviting Prime Minister Modi to address a Joint Meeting will allow Congress to express support for this special global partnership.”
The lawmakers said the US partnership with India is based on a foundation of shared values, including the rule of law, electoral democracy, and religious pluralism and this renewed partnership has found champions in the leadership of both parties, including both President Clinton and President George Bush, and has been “further emboldened in the United States by a strong, proud, and growing Indian-American diaspora.” It is no wonder that the partnership has been characterized as the defining partnership of the 21st century, they asserted, telling the Speaker that their understanding was that if invited, the Prime Minister would consent to address the Congress.
Signatories to the letter include Ed Royce, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, ranking member Eliot Engel, and Congresmen George Holding and Ami Bera, who also happens to be the only Indian-American lawmaker in Congress
While dates for the Modi visit have been penciled in, details of the program are yet to worked out, including a possible stop over in the Caribbean, home to a large Indian diaspora.
This will be Modi’s fourth visit to the United States after he became Prime Minister two years ago. But this will also be his first official “state” visit in bilateral matrix. President Obama had made two visits to India, one during each term. He went on a state visit in November 2010 when Manmohan Singh was Prime Minister. He then made an extraordinary trip to witness India’s Republic Day ceremony in January 2015, becoming the first US President to attend the R-Day festivities and also the first US President to make two trips to India.