Ahead of their Summit talks, US President Barack Obama on Monday hosted a private dinner for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the two leaders sought to reinvigorate bilateral ties.
The Prime Minister, who arrived in Washington late afternoon at the Andrew Airforce Base, was received by William Burns, Deputy Secretary of State and other senior officials.
From there, Mr. Modi left for the Blair house, the American President’s guest house where he will be staying during his Washington trip. Later, he drove to the White House from the Blair guest house for the dinner.
“Kem Cho,” Mr. Obama asked when he welcomed Mr. Modi, who replied, “Thank you very much, President.”
The dinner, with limited guests from each side in the Blue Room of the White House might have a delectable spread of dishes, but the main guest only had warm water as he was observing Navratri fasts.
However, First Lady Michelle Obama did not attend the dinner as she was travelling.
“The Prime Minister did not have anything except for warm water,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akabruddin said.
Later, Mr. Modi said he had a wonderful meeting with Mr. Obama during which they talked about a wide range of issues.
“Obama and I share a vision for a partnership in which our nations work together for the benefit of the entire humankind,” the Prime Minister tweeted.
>Read: Indo-US ties: In need of a new momentum
On the issues of discussion during the 90-minute dinner meeting, Mr. Akbaruddin said discussions were largely on knowing each other and sharing the initial experiences after they took over.
They shared anecdotes to connect with each other, he said while describing the dinner meeting as a “very successful interaction“.
“They did not get to discuss any of the substantive issues. This was a very cordial and comforting conversation where each of them were trying to understand others perspective and they did not get into very substantive discussion which will follow tomorrow,” he added.
They agreed to take up more substantive issue tomorrow — both in restrictive format and in delegation level talks — but in general the thinking was that there was a lot of goodwill between India and the US for each other, he said.
“There was a feeling that they should try and focus on some big things that they can achieve in a finite time period in the next few years,” the Spokesperson said.
“There was also a feeling that India—US relationship was among the most important relationships in the world today. And therefore, it was incumbent upon both of them to work towards strengthening and deepening this relationship,” he said.