Two powerful American lawmakers on Friday sought a joint address to the US Congress by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he travels to Washington at the invitation of President Barack Obama. While no dates for Modi’s US visit have been announced, it is widely expected to be around the UN General Assembly session, held in New York, in September.
Modi is expected to visit the US at that time. Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Congressman George Holding in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, requested that Modi be allowed to address a joint meeting of Congress.
“As you know, India is a critical partner of the United States. In every aspect – whether it be in political, economic or security relations – the United States has no more important partner in South Asia. It is not an overstatement to say that the US-India relationship will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century,” Royce and Holding wrote to Boehner in their letter dated June 20.
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Modi’s predecessor Manmohan Singh was the last Indian Prime Minister to address a joint session of the US Congress when he visited Washington in 2005. “We are writing to request that Mr Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, be granted the honour of addressing a Joint Meeting of Congress when he travels to Washington, DC this September.
“With more than 500 million people voting in the recent Indian election, it was both the world’s largest democratic event and an historic moment for India. The US must now work closely with Prime Minister Modi to strengthen the important relationship between the two countries,” they wrote.
Optimistic that the mandate given to Modi will help India thrive economically, the two Congressmen said under his leadership, the state of Gujarat has flourished. Home to a mere five per cent of India’s population, Gujarat now accounts for about 25 per cent of Indian exports.
Poverty rates have fallen dramatically, and infrastructure has grown impressively, Royce and Holding said in the letter. Importantly, Prime Minister Modi has promised to focus on private enterprise, reduce bureaucracy, and strengthen trade ties with major partners, the two Congressman said.
“Since 2001, US-India trade has experienced impressive growth, but our commercial relationship remains far below the scale of our markets. Prime Minister Modi’s commitment to cut the red tape that has long plagued our trade relationship gives reason for hope that our economic partnership will flourish,” Royce and Holding wrote.
“Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the United States will undoubtedly be a seminal event for the nation’s vibrant Indian American community. We look forward to working with you to ensure that this trip is a success,” the letter said.