Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s U.S visit from June 6th to 8th — his fourth in the last two years — may not be marked by any big-bang announcements, but is expected to demonstrate the bipartisan support that the bilateral relationship has acquired over the years.
Negotiations between nuclear reactor builders Westinghouse and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd for six reactors is progressing well, according to sources, but there are outstanding issues that may not resolved before the PM’s visit. India and the U.S announced civil nuclear cooperation in 2005, but the first commercial agreement has not been concluded. Talks are also progressing on the proposed U.S sale of unarmed Predator drones, used for surveillance, but that too is not final yet.
Refusing to discuss details, Indian Ambassador to the U.S Arun K Singh said several agreements are in the pipeline ahead of the PM’s visit but the takeaway would be the demonstration of the “bipartisan support for the relationship.” “The visit will in a sense launch into the next administration,” Mr. Singh said, noting that but for his visit, there would have been a gap of nearly two years before any summit level engagement. The U.S will elect the next President in November, who will assume charge in January 2017. It may take a while before he or she could make a trip to India or host the Indian PM.
“Many people have articulated that the invitation and the visit are really a part of consolidating and celebrating the India-US relationship,” Mr. Singh said. “What has been achieved so far and seeing what more can be done as we move into the next year when there will be transition of the administration in the US and also elections to the US Congress”.
Noting that a new phase in India-US relationship was started from 2000 when President Bill Clinton went to India, the Ambassador said President Barack Obama’s two visits to the country has enhanced the relations. Mr. Obama has articulated support for India’s membership of the UN Security Council, and of multilateral export control regimes.
Mr. Obama will host Mr. Modi for a working lunch at the White House on June 7. Mr. Modi arrives on June 6 evening and will be staying at Blair House, the President’s guesthouse opposite to the White House. On June 7 evening Mr. Modi will attend the US-India Business Council annual gala. The PM is scheduled to spend four hours at the Capitol Hill, the seat of U.S legislature on June 8. He will address the joint session of the US Congress – the fifth Indian PM to do so. Speaker Paul Ryan will host a lunch in Mr. Modi’s honour – which will be a first.
There will be a ceremonial handing over to the Prime Minister, of several Indian artifacts that have been recovered in the U.S. Defence Secretary Ash Carter will call on the PM during his visit.