Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address a joint session of the United States Congress during his state visit to the country in early June. He will be visiting the U.S. for a bilateral meeting, the itinerary for which is not yet confirmed, with President Barack Obama, the Hindu reported.
The U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee leaders wrote to House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday seeking to extend an invitation to Modi to address the Senate and the House in Washington during his visit.
"Given the depth of our relationship with India across a range of areas — defence, humanitarian and disaster relief, space cooperation, conservation and innovation — we believe this is an ideal opportunity for the Congress to hear directly from the prime minister," Reuters quoted Republican Ed Royce and Democrat Eliot Engel as saying.
Republican Representative George Holding and Democrat Ami Bera also signed the letter sent to Ryan. "We hope Prime Minister Modi will accept our invitation to address a joint session of Congress. During his earlier visits the schedules could not match. This time it looks possible," Holding told the Hindu.
Modi was in 2005 denied a visa by the then government led by George W Bush over the 2002 Gujarat riots, in which over 1,000 people were killed. He was then the Chief Minister of the state. However, all restrictions were lifted after he became the prime minister in 2014.
The prime minister's trip to the U.S., likely on June 7 and 8, was reportedly planned after the U.S. president extended an invitation for a bilateral meeting when the two met on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit 2016 last month.
"This will be President Obama's way of saying that he cares for India. There have been unresolved issues, but President Obama clearly values relations with India and hosting PM Modi for a bilateral summit is a clear indication of that," the Hindu quoted US-India Business Council President Mukesh Aghi as saying.
Modi had made three trips to the U.S. after coming to power in May 2014. However, the two leaders never held bilateral talks. The fourth one will be the first state visit when the two leaders are expected to talk, with issues apparently ranging from ocean economy, space cooperation and cyber security to nuclear commerce, a U.S. State Department official told the Hindu.
His itinerary may also include a visit to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The two countries are also expected to finalise a deal between Westinghouse Electric and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd to set up six nuclear reactors in Gujarat.
Westinghouse was expecting the deal to be signed by the end of March when Modi was in the U.S. for the nuclear summit, but it wasn't.