U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell will meet Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, most likely on Thursday in Gandhinagar, said US Embassy and Government sources here on Tuesday.
The U.S. Ambassador was among the depleting ranks of Western envoys to have maintained a hands-off distance with Mr. Modi although he achieved political salience after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) declared him its prime ministerial candidate for the coming general elections.
The U.S. justified Ms. Powell’s request for a meeting with Mr. Modi as being part of Washington’s "concerted outreach" to senior political and business leaders that began last November. "We can confirm the appointment," said U.S. Embassy sources here.
The U.S. has shied away from high profile public contact with Mr. Modi although senior Embassy officials such as the then Political Counsellor Uzra Zeya and now senior U.S. State Department official, have been making frequent trips to Gujarat.
Gujarat is not only the location of several American start-ups but the site of a multi-billion-dollar site for nuclear power reactors — the biggest single ticket investment opportunity for the U.S. economy in India.
While the European Union was the first in the Western bloc to end the deliberate isolation of Mr. Modi ever since the Gujarat riots of 2002, the Gujarat Chief Minister has been feted by other countries including a high profile visit to China.
From Mr. Modi’s perspective, things worsened in 2005 when the US Government not only refused to give him a diplomatic visa, but cancelled his existing visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act. This rarely applied U.S. legislation bars grants of visa to applicants such as convicted war criminal Slobodan Milosevic who might have indulged in severe violation of religious freedom.
Among the high profile Western envoys who have met Mr. Modi are a group led by German Ambassador Michael Steiner and U.K. High Commissioner James Bevan.