Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited to address a joint meeting of the US Congress on June 8 during his visit to the United States, Speaker of the US House of Representative Paul Ryan said on Thursday.
“The friendship between the United States and India is a pillar of stability in an important region of the world,” Ryan told reporters during his weekly press conference.
“This address presents a special opportunity to hear from the elected leader of the world’s most populous democracy on how our two nations can work together to promote our shared values and to increase prosperity. We look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Modi to the US Capitol on June 8,” he said.
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Modi, who was invited by President Barack Obama for a bilateral visit when he was here for the nuclear summit, will be the fifth prime minister of India to address a joint meeting of Congress, and the first since 2005.
Earlier, Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh (July 19, 2005), Atal Bihari Vajpayee (September 14, 2000), P V Narasimha Rao (May 18, 1994) and Rajiv Gandhi (July 13, 1985) addressed the joint meeting of the US Congress.
The tradition of foreign leaders and dignitaries addressing Congress began with the Marquis de Lafayette of France, who spoke in the House chamber on December 10, 1824.
Ronak D Desai, a Fellow at New America and an Affiliate at the Belfer Center’s India and South Asia Program at Harvard University, said, “an invitation to Prime Minister Modi to address a Joint Meeting of Congress is significant, given past US policy towards Modi during his time as Chief Minister of Gujarat.”
Modi’s visit is likely to be the last official meeting between the two leaders during President Obama’s final year in office.