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Modi Capitol Hill address in jeopardy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi   | Photo Credit: PTI

Even as the U.S. Senate introduced a bipartisan resolution calling for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress in late September, the prospect of his delivering such an address appeared to grow dimmer this week, with the Indian side shrouded in uncertainty as they awaited news from the Speaker of the House of Representatives on when the ongoing session of Congress would terminate.

With Republicans especially keen to kick off their campaigns for the November mid-term elections, proposals for Mr. Modi’s address on Capitol Hill during the final week of September are likely to be shelved if the current session ends on September 19, instead of on October 2, as it is currently scheduled.

Messages seeking clarity on the dates that were left with the office of the Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, who is responsible for scheduling matters for sessions of the House, were not returned at the time this article went to print.

However Wednesday’s resolution introduced on the floor of the Senate left little doubt that there was vociferous support for Washington’s partnership with the Modi administration that transcended party lines.

Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine joined with their Republican colleagues John Cornyn and Jim Risch, all involved with the Senate India Caucus, to urge that Mr. Modi be invited to deliver the address, and pressed for the U.S. to “nominate and confirm an Ambassador to India as soon as possible,” and follow that up by developing a “clear strategic plan for its relationship with India.”

The resolution, numbered 523, however reiterated the hope expressed by numerous U.S. lawmakers and administration officials that India would continue economic liberalisation reforms.

In addition to calling for the finalisation of a bilateral investment treaty and the revival of the Trade Policy Forum the resolution urged the Government of India to lift caps on Foreign Direct Investment, take steps to enhance protections for intellectual property and modify its offset regime so funds could flow to a second tier of Indian priorities such as education or manufacturing.

Commenting on the resolution Senator Warner said that progress in the U.S.-India relationship under the new Indian government had already come in the form of the Pentagon “naming Frank Kendall to lead the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative, lifting the cap on foreign direct investment in defence and insurance, a new emphasis on the U.S.-India Community College initiative, and convening the a U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue in Delhi this week.”

Senator Risch underscored the hope that progress would be made on the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement, which hit a roadblock after the passage of the Indian nuclear liability law under the previous Indian government.

He said, “The U.S.-India Relationship is of great importance to me and the people of Idaho,” especially as the Idaho National Lab “has been a leader in this relationship… through leading the technical nuclear cooperation between our countries.”


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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 6:52:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/modi-capitol-hill-address-in-jeopardy/article6265087.ece

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