PM Modi lands in U.S. capital, to meet Joe Biden

The White House announced a joint press appearance with the two leaders and said they will ‘take questions from the press’ 

June 22, 2023 01:30 am | Updated 02:16 am IST - Washington DC

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with the Indian diaspora upon arrival at his hotel in Washington, D.C. on June 21, 2023.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with the Indian diaspora upon arrival at his hotel in Washington, D.C. on June 21, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Washington DC on a wet Wednesday afternoon to kick off the main part of his first state visit to the United States. Some 200 of his supporters had gathered outside the Willard Hotel in the capital to greet Mr. Modi upon his arrival from New York, where he spent the night.

Mr. Modi walked up to the crowd and shook hands before heading off to Virginia for his first official engagement in the city — a visit with First Lady Jill Biden to the National Science Foundation. The Prime Minister and the First Lady were scheduled to participate in a moderated conversation with students, with a focus on workforce training. Mr. Modi was scheduled to hold meetings with business leaders as per his schedule and have a private dinner with the Bidens at the White House.

PM Modi’s U.S. visit Day 2 | Updates

Earlier in the day, in what the government sees as an exercise of India’s soft power, Mr. Modi led a yoga session at the United Nations headquarters to mark the International Day of Yoga, a UN-designated day for yoga since 2014.

The main part of the state visit is scheduled for Thursday, when Mr. Modi will be formally welcomed to the White House and where he will hold bilateral talks with U.S. President Joe Biden. The White House also announced a joint press appearance with the two leaders, and said they will “take questions from the press” . Mr. Modi does not normally engage in interactive press sessions on his foreign visits.

Also read: PM Modi says Yoga is free from patents and royalty payments

The Prime Minister’s presence in Washington and the U.S.-India relationship will be commemorated with a state dinner on Thursday evening.

Series of meetings

On Tuesday, shortly after arriving in Manhattan, Mr. Modi met with people from academia, think tanks and business, including the founder of electric car company Tesla Inc and commercial space exploration company SpaceX, Elon Musk, Nobel laureate and economist Paul Romer and author Nassim Nicholas Taleb. He also met with a group from academia including presidents and deans of U.S. universities and business schools as well as individuals in the health care sector.

Significantly, Mr. Modi also met with Robert Thurman, who is a Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies at Columbia University (and father of actor Uma Thurman) as well as actor Richard Gere, both active and influential names in the cause of the preservation of Tibetan culture and freedom. Mr. Gere joined Mr. Modi for his yoga session on Wednesday.

PM Modi performs yoga at 9th annual International Day of Yoga 2023 celebrations, at UN Headquarters, in New York on Wednesday. Actor Richard Gere also participated in the session.

PM Modi performs yoga at 9th annual International Day of Yoga 2023 celebrations, at UN Headquarters, in New York on Wednesday. Actor Richard Gere also participated in the session. | Photo Credit: ANI

Mr. Modi invited Mr. Musk, who also owns Twitter, to explore investment opportunities in India in the electrical mobility and commercial space sectors, the Ministry of External Affairs readout of their meeting said. Mr. Modi said he and Mr. Musk had broad discussions from “energy to spirituality”.

Mr. Musk said India had “more promise than any large country in the world”, and said he was a “fan” of Mr. Modi. He also indicated his keenness to invest in India.

“We don’t want to jump the gun on an announcement, but I think it’s quite likely that it will be a significant investment, a relationship with India,” he said..

“One cannot just apply America to Earth,” Mr. Musk told India Today after his meeting with Mr. Modi, as he responded to Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s assertion that Twitter was threatened by the government with raids and a shutdown if it did not act on accounts the government found problematic.

“If we don’t obey local government laws then we will get shut down,” Mr. Musk said adding that Twitter will try and support “the freest speech” that is possible within the limits of the law. Mr. Musk said not obeying the local rules might mean Twitter getting blocked and its staff getting arrested.

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