As External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met in Hiroshima on Sunday, both sides discussed plans for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the U.S. in June, with sources saying a number of possible plans including a “short retreat” outside Washington are still being finalised.
“We look forward to hosting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June, whose visit will celebrate the deep partnership between the United States and India,” Mr. Blinken wrote in a tweet, which Mr. Jaishankar thanked him for.
At the Quad meeting held on the sidelines of the G-7 summit on Saturday, U.S. President Biden also reportedly referred to the upcoming visit. According to the BJP’s National Information & Technology Department in-charge Amit Malviya, who tweeted that Mr. Biden heaped “fawning praise” on Mr. Modi, the U.S. President had said that there is a “huge demand from people across U.S. to attend the State dinner next month”, joking that he should seek PM Modi’s “autograph”. Neither the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) nor the U.S. Embassy in Delhi confirmed the remarks by the U.S. President in Hiroshima, that were also reported by a number of media agencies.
While the state visit, the first for an Indian Prime Minister since 2009, will include a ceremonial welcome at the White House and a state banquet, the visiting dignitaries are also often accorded a lunch at the State Department (to meet with Vice-President and Secretary of State).
Last month, India Caucus co-chair Ro Khanna confirmed he was writing to the U.S. Speaker to request that PM Modi also address the U.S. Congress. In addition, the Prime Minister, who will reach Washington on June 22, ahead of the official events on June 23, is expected to address a large gathering of U.S. CEOs and Chambers of Commerce, and attend a reception for the Indian diaspora organised by the Indian Embassy. Earlier, the ruling BJP’s overseas wing, and diaspora groups were looking into possible diaspora events in Chicago or Atlanta, but sources said there is “no clarity” on whether a large diaspora event on the lines of the 2018 “Howdy Modi” address in Houston would be included.
Sources also said that the two governments are discussing a short trip outside Washington by Mr. Biden and Mr. Modi. According to the sources, officials have discussed the possibility of the two leaders travelling to the U.S. Presidential retreat for hosting foreign dignitaries at Camp David, or Mr. Biden’s private vacation home at Rehoboth beach. “The programme is evolving, and details are not finalised yet,” said at least two officials involved in planning the visit when asked. In the past Mr. Modi has shared such “retreat” sojourns with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Schloss Meseberg palace outside Berlin, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron in Chequers, Russian President Vladimir Putin at his Dacha in Sochi, and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan.
PM Modi will be the third State Guest that U.S. President Biden will host during his presidency, after French President Emmanuel Macron in December 2022 and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. He is expected to visit India in September this year for the G-20 summit, and in 2024, when it will be India’s turn to host the next Quad Summit.
Mr. Blinken’s meeting with EAM Jaishankar also came a week after India had sharply rejected a U.S. State Department report on international religious freedom released by the U.S. Secretary of State that criticised the Modi government for the “continued targeting of minorities” in India. When asked on Thursday, MEA officials had sidestepped a question on whether the issue would be raised during the India-US bilateral meeting as well.