By JOSH LEDERMAN
Associated Press, May 16, 2014
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is inviting India’s next prime minister, Narendra Modi, to visit the United States, offering a fresh start to a relationship bruised by a decision years ago not to let Modi into the U.S.
In a phone call to Modi on Friday, Obama congratulated the Indian leader and his Bharatiya Janata Party on their victory in India’s national election, the White House said. Obama told Modi he looks forward to cooperating closely to deepen the relationship between the U.S. and the world’s largest democracy.
Obama invited Modi to come to Washington “at a mutually agreeable time to further strengthen our bilateral relationship,” the White House said.
Caption: Supporters of Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, prime ministerial candidate for India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), wear masks depicting Modi outside their party office in Mumbai May 16, 2014. Opposition candidate Narendra Modi will be the next prime minister of India, with early election results on Friday showing the pro-business Hindu nationalist and his party headed for the biggest victory the country has seen in 30 years. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui (INDIA)
Hindu nationalist and leader of India’s opposition, Modi was decisively
elected India’s next leader in what the White House described as the
largest free and fair election in human history.
2005, Washington denied Modi a visa, alleging he was complicit in
religious riots in 2002 that killed more than 1,000 Muslims.
Modi’s party maintains he was exonerated when investigators appointed by India’s Supreme Court in 2010 did not find prosecutable evidence that Modi had willfully allowed the 2002 communal violence. Still, rights groups maintain there is strong evidence linking Modi’s administration with the attacks.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters write congratulatory messages for their leader Narendra Modi on a giant board at their party headquarters in New Delhi, India, Friday, May 16, 2014. Modi will be India’s next prime minister, winning the most decisive election victory the country has seen in more than a quarter century and sweeping the long-dominant Congress party from power, partial results showed Friday. (AP Photo /Manish Swarup)
The Obama administration started mending ties in February by dispatching the U.S. ambassador and other top officials to meet with Modi as his potential victory in the elections looked increasingly likely. That reconciliation appeared to take a major step forward on Friday with the congratulatory call from Obama.
|Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate for India’s main
opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), gestures during a public meeting in Vadodra
in the western Indian state of Gujarat May 16, 2014.Credit: Reuters/Amit Dave
“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,” Carney said.
Secretary of State John Kerry added his congratulations on Twitter, pledging to work with Modi to promote shared prosperity and security. His spokeswoman at the State Department, Jen Psaki, said that as the head of a foreign government, Modi would be eligible for an A-1 visa, the type given to foreign diplomats and government officials.
Associated Press writer Matthew Pennington contributed to this report.