WASHINGTON (TIP): US President Barack Obama on Friday, May 17, called Narendra Modi to congratulate him on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s electoral success. Obama invited Modi to visit Washington “at a mutually agreeable time to further strengthen our bilateral relationship”, the White House said in its readout of the phone call. Obama “noted he looks forward to working closely with Modi to fulfill the extraordinary promise of the US-India strategic partnership, and they agreed to continue expanding and deepening the wide-ranging cooperation between our two democracies,” the White House said.
The George W Bush administration had barred Modi from receiving a US visa in 2005 following the 2002 Gujarat riot accusations, which Modi denies. With Modi’s election the visa issue has become a nonissue. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Modi, as head of government, would be eligible for an A-1 US visa. On Friday, White House spokesman Jay Carney referred to the State Department a question about the wisdom of the decision to deny Modi a US visa. “Once the government is formed, we look forward to working closely with the prime minister and the Cabinet to advance our strong bilateral relationship based on shared democratic values,” he added.