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US Looking Forward to Welcoming Modi to Washington

The United States has said it is looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Washington, but refrained from making any announcement on the possible trip in September.

"We look forward to welcoming the prime minister to Washington, nothing to announce on timing at this point," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters yesterday.

"I don't have any more details. We said we look forward to welcoming him," Harf reiterated when pressed further.

Prime Minister Modi has accepted Obama's invitation for a meeting in late September and the dates are being finalised, according to official sources in New Delhi.

The invitation for the meeting came during the congratulatory call to Modi by Obama after the Lok Sabha election results were out.

"A date was offered by the US side for the meeting and both the countries are working on it," official sources said.

It is understood that Washington has proposed September 30 as the date for the meeting but the Indian side is looking at clubbing the bilateral meeting with Modi's visit to the US for the United Nations General Assembly around September 26.

US Secretary of State John Kerry last month had conveyed to S Jaishankar, the Indian Ambassador to the US, that the US looks forward to welcoming Modi to the country.

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal is scheduled to hold meetings in New Delhi over the next several days establishing the first high-level contact between the Obama Administration and the Modi government after the new government assumed power on May 26.

Obama was among the first foreign leaders to call up Modi and congratulate him on his "emphatic election victory".

The US President also wished that under Modi's leadership, India will contribute significantly at the global stage. Both leaders had discussed the Indo-US Strategic Partnership and the prevailing global economic situation.

The call was the first high-level contact between Modi and the US leadership ever since 2005 when the Gujarat chief minister was denied a US visa due to his alleged complicity in the 2002 riots in his home state.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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