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The U.S. Welcomes Modi

Jun/25/2023 / by Abhijit Masih

Bilateral discussions, state dinners, meetings and more marked the Indian prime minister’s state visit. There was even a yoga session at the U.N.

Biden and Modi at the White House
U.S. President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House

“With this official visit, we are bringing together the world’s oldest and world’s largest democracies. But our relationship isn’t just about governments. We’re celebrating the families and friendships that span the globe,” said First Lady Dr. Jill Biden while hosting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The statement by FLOTUS sums up Modi’s hectic four-day state visit to the U.S. The day the Indian prime minister arrived in New York, June 20, which was also World Yoga Day, he led a yoga event at the U.N. building.

The D.C. Leg

SEEMA attended all the events held in Washington, D.C., including the joint press briefing with the two leaders.

Prime Minister Modi arrived in the nation’s capital on the afternoon of June 21 and had the first official event in Alexandria, Virginia. The first lady was the host when Modi visited the National Science Foundation where he spoke of the U.S. and India’s shared priorities about education and the work force. One of the smaller events he attended, fewer than 200 people attended.

Wednesday evening, President Joe Biden (who had just returned from California) and the first lady hosted Modi at a private dinner at the White House. The menu reportedly included some of the president’s favorite food: pasta and ice cream.

The official welcome ceremony for Prime Minister Modi was held Thursday morning on the South Lawn of the White House. The president and the first lady greeted the prime minister in the presence of dignitaries from both countries, including Vice President Kamala Harris. For the first time, the White House gates opened to allow in people to attend a welcome ceremony. The only damper was the dull and wet weather other than a let-up during the important stage of the hour-long ceremony.

A Variety of Meetings

Following the ceremony on the South Lawn, Biden held a bilateral meeting with Modi that ran over the stipulated time. The press conference was held in the East Room of White House. Only select credentialed media personnel were let in. SEEMA was there to witness the two questions put forth to the two leaders at the rare event.

Immediately after the press conference, the prime minister left for Capitol Hill to address the joint session of the U.S. Congress.

Later, the president and the first lady hosted Modi, the Indian delegation and 400 special guests at a state dinner Thursday evening in a pavilion on the South Lawn. Green and saffron fabric lined the lawn, honoring the colors of the Indian flag. The First Lady wore a sparkling green dress designed by Ralph Lauren. Chef Nina Curtis worked with the White House chefs on a vegetarian menu for Modi.

Both the president and the prime minister mentioned Indian Americans numerous times during the day. On Friday, the last day of the state visit, Prime Minister Modi spent the first half of the day meeting business leaders of American and Indian companies. They discussed innovation, investment, and manufacturing in a variety of technology sectors. He spent the rest of the day attending two diaspora events in Washington DC.

President Biden defined the relationship between the two countries as “a partnership that is among the most consequential in the world, that is stronger, closer, and more dynamic than any time in history.”

Seema

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