Quite a few surprise elements have added a twist — both symbolic and substantive — to PM Narendra Modi’s four-day visit to the United States where he will address the United Nations General Assembly on September 27.
Government officials have said that following his UNGA address, the PM will visit Ground Zero, the site of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in downtown New York which were brought down in terror attacks on September 11, 2001. He is also likely to tour the new 9/11 museum and memorial inaugurated by US President Barack Obama in May.
Following the tour, Modi has agreed to the inclusion of an unconventional item on his agenda. He will visit the much-publicised Global Citizens Festival in the Great Lawn of the Central Park, held every year to coincide with the UNGA. The day-long festival is visited by several celebrities and musicians and organisers have said over 40,000 free tickets will be distributed. As per the current schedule, Modi is slotted to speak for 15 minutes at the Central Park event, the theme of which is ending global poverty by 2030.
“This is basically organised by prominent NGOs,” said a top government official. “They invited the new Indian PM and he decided to visit them.’’
Official sources confirmed some key bilateral and diplomatic engagements. On September 27 itself, Modi will hold consultations with Sheikh Hasina, the PM of Bangladesh, as well as with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Said a senior diplomat, “The meeting with the Sri Lankan President is still somewhat tentative but we expect it will happen.’’
Besides attending a reception at the Indian Consulate, Modi is scheduled to meet former US President Bill Clinton. On September 29, Modi will leave for Washington for his much-anticipated bilateral engagement with Obama.