India’s new prime minister accepts Obama’s invitation to visit Washington in September

Published: July 11, 2014

US President Barack Obama waits for a meeting with business leaders in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building near the White House on July 11, 2014 in Washington, DC. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

NIRMALA GEORGE
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW DELHI — India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet President Barack Obama in Washington in September during a visit aimed at restoring strained relations between the countries.

At a meeting in New Delhi, Modi told U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns that he was accepting an invitation from Obama, the prime minister’s office said in a statement Friday.

Modi said ties between the two democracies would be a powerful force for peace, stability and prosperity in the world.

“Burns conveyed President Obama’s desire to strengthen economic relations” between the countries, the statement said.

Several areas of bilateral interest including new technologies, energy security, counterterrorism and exchange of intelligence were listed in the statement as issues that were likely to figure in the talks between Obama and Modi.

Relations between India and the United States have been strained by the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York in December over charges of visa fraud.

There was widespread outrage in India when it became known that the diplomat, India’s deputy consul general in New York was arrested and strip-searched.

Devyani Khobragade was accused of lying on visa forms so she could bring her maid to the U.S. while paying her a pittance. Khobragade returned to India in January, but charges are still pending.

Obama was among the first Western leaders to call and congratulate Modi when his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party swept into power in May with a decisive election mandate.

Modi’s acceptance of Obama’s invitation also signifies that the Indian prime minister has put behind him any lingering tension over the U.S. denying him a visa to visit in 2005. The denial was based on his alleged complicity in religious riots in 2002 that killed more than 1,000 Muslims in the western state of Gujarat where he was the top elected official.

Investigators appointed by India’s Supreme Court found no prosecutable evidence that he had wilfully allowed the violence, though rights groups maintain there is strong evidence linking Modi’s administration with the attacks.

Other irritants include U.S. concerns over alleged online piracy and intellectual property rights violations by Indian businesses.

India has maintained that its patent laws are compliant with the rules of the World Trade Organization.

09:11ET 11-07-14

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