WASHINGTON: Top American lawmakers have intensified their campaign to get Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to address a joint session of the US Congress when he visits the US in September.
US President Barack Obama yesterday extended a formal invitation to Modi for a visit to the US, and expressed keenness to work closely with him to make the bilateral relations a "defining partnership" in the 21st century.
In a statement issued by the PMO in New Delhi, Modi thanked Obama for the invitation, and said he looked forward to a result-oriented visit with "concrete outcomes" that impart "new momentum and energy" to the strategic partnership.
As of yesterday, nearly three dozen Congressmen from both the Democratic and the Republican Party had signed on a letter addressed to the House of Representatives Speaker, John Boehner, extending an invitation to Modi to address the joint session of the Congress.
Though the office of the Speaker said that no determination in this regard has been made yet, every passing day the number of Congressmen making such a request has been swelling, with the latest campaign being spearheaded by Congressmen Brad Sherman, Ted Poe and Eni Faleomavaega.
An invitation to address a joint session of Congress is viewed as the highest honour the Congress can bestow on a foreign head of state.
"I am pleased that many more members have joined the effort to invite Prime Minister Modi to a joint session of Congress," Sherman said.
"The United States and India have a special relationship based on shared democratic values. This is an excellent opportunity to build on this partnership," he said.
"We have an opportunity to build on the US-India strategic partnership to the benefit of both our nations. India is a growing economic power in a strategically important region of the world. New Delhi plays a critical role in regional peace and security," says the letter that is being circulated among members of the US House of Representatives.
"In each of the last three decades, a prime minister of India has addressed a joint session of Congress, and the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Modi will allow us to continue that tradition," said the letter, which was signed by some 36 Congressmen.
Ahead of Modi's visit, other top lawmakers too have called the India-US relationship as the defining partnerships of the 21st century and said that a strong India is good news and a positive thing for both the United States and the world at large.
"A stronger India is positive for the United States and the world, and could serve as a force for greater stability, security, and prosperity," House Democratic Whip, Steny H Hoyer, said at a roundtable on India-US relationship organised at the US Capitol on Wednesday.
"America has much to gain through close engagement and partnership with the world's largest democracy," Hoyer said.
He along side other lawmakers, was joined by members of the Indian-American community, business leaders, diplomats, and Obama Administration officials to explore potential avenues for closer collaboration between the two countries.
"The United States and India aren't just friends, we are natural partners rooted in our shared values and interests. From economic ties and tourism, to defense and cultural relations, the multifaceted relationship between the US and India is growing at a rapid pace. And as India has assumed an essential role on the global stage, US India ties have never been more relevant," Crowley said.
"This dialogue is an important step in fostering the US-India relationship and discovering new opportunities to grow and develop what has the potential of becoming the most important bilateral relationship in the world," he said. The ties between the United States and India will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century, Engel said.
"India has become an important economic, political, and security partner for the United States and we must find ways to further strengthen the many areas where we are already working together," he said.
"I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Modi to the United States this September and I hope this meeting marks the first of many discussions about how our countries can work together to drive prosperity and opportunity for all our citizens," Engel said.
Representatives Hoyer, Crowley, and Engel have committed to engaging with the Indian-American community on a wide range of issues concerning the bilateral relationship.
Both during the roundtable and in potential future meetings, the lawmakers will work to identify possible areas for near-term collaboration and work to address challenges in the US-India partnership.