U.S. lawmakers seek to honour Modi with address to Congress

WASHINGTON Sat Jun 21, 2014 12:20am IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes out of a meeting room to receive his Bhutanese counterpart Tshering Tobgay before the start of their bilateral meeting in New Delhi May 27, 2014.   REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes out of a meeting room to receive his Bhutanese counterpart Tshering Tobgay before the start of their bilateral meeting in New Delhi May 27, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Narendra Modi, once denied a visa to enter the United States over massacres of Muslims, is expected to receive the honour of addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress during a visit to Washington in September.

California Republican Ed Royce, chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote to House Speaker John Boehner on Friday and asked that he invite Modi to address a joint session of the House and Senate during his trip.

"In every aspect – whether it be in political, economic or security relations – the United States has no more important partner in South Asia," the letter said. "It is not an overstatement to say that the U.S.-India relationship will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century."

Boehner's office did not immediately announce a response to the letter, which was also signed by North Carolina Republican Representative George Holding. Congressional aides said they expected an invitation would be issued to the Indian leader.

The administration of President George W. Bush denied Modi a visa in 2005 under a 1998 U.S. law barring entry to foreigners who have committed "particularly severe violations of religious freedom."

In 2002, when Modi had just become Gujarat's chief minister, more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in sectarian riots in the state. Modi denied any wrongdoing. India's Supreme Court ruled in 2010 he had no case to answer.

President Barack Obama congratulated Modi on his election victory in mid-May and invited him to the White House.

The United States, which sees India as a natural ally and potential counterbalance to China in Asia, is eager to expand business and security cooperation with the Modi government.

However, the relationship has failed to live up to that billing, due to bureaucratic and regulatory obstacles in India to expanded business ties and a political dispute over U.S. treatment of an Indian diplomat accused of mistreating her nanny, which some analysts blamed on a lack of policy focus by the Obama administration.

Foreign heads of states and heads of government have been invited to address joint meetings of Congress since the early 1800s, normally to underscore their countries' close allegiance with the United States.

The last such address was South Korean President Park Geun-hye's more than a year ago, on May 8, 2013.

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

FILED UNDER:

Reuters Showcase

Land Ordinance

Land Ordinance

Modi says willing to make changes in land decree  Full Article 

Sahara Woes

Sahara Woes

SEBI cancels Sahara's portfolio management licence  Full Article 

Gold Demand

Gold Demand

India gold demand muted, eyes cut in import duty  Full Article 

Coffee's Hot

Coffee's Hot

IPO could value Cafe Coffee Day at $1 billion  Full Article 

Sahara Salaries

Sahara Salaries

Some staff say Sahara has not paid salaries for months   Full Article 

DLF Fined

DLF Fined

DLF says reviewing $8.4 million SEBI penalty  Full Article 

GM Corn

GM Corn

Monsanto says GM corn trial in final stage in India  Full Article 

Rail Budget

Rail Budget

Breakingviews - India goes back to future with $137 bln rail push  Full Article | Full Coverage 

Clean Energy

Clean Energy

India says clean energy a $160 billion opportunity over five years  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage