WASHINGTON: President Obama on Friday telephoned Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi and invited him to visit Washington at a mutually agreeable time to further strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries.
The White House said the President called Modi to congratulate him on the Bharatiya Janata Party's success in India's historic election. 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, a White House statement said.
Hours before the call, Washington made it clear that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is welcome in the United States. Even before the President's phone call, the Obama administration extended the most explicit invitation to India's prime minister-to-be on Friday, indicating that the visa flap that had dogged ties with him is a thing of the past.
Separately, senior State Department officials said the visa thing is now a non-issue, overruling overzealous spokespersons who doggedly stuck to the bureaucratic script in repeating ad nauseum that his visa will be considered on merit etc. Officials explained that as a head of government, Modi will merit a different treatment altogether.