Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reached the US for a three-day tour, during which he will meet US President Barack Obama in the home stretch of his White House stay. During his 3-day trip, PM Modi is expected to met top American political and business leaders to bolster the Indo-US ties, besides his meeting with President Obama. Here are some facts explaining why PM Modi's US trip is important.
-This is PM Modi's fourth visit to the US since he took over as PM in 2014. His first visit had come months after he had assumed office, for a UN session. The second visit had been a state visit that included a meeting with Obama at the White House. The third visit had come in April, when he attended the Nuclear Security Summit.
-Modi is scheduled to meet Obama, which will be followed by a lunch at the White House on Tuesday. This will be the sixth meeting between the two leaders, that included Obama's historic visit to India as a guest of honour at the Republic Day celebrations in 2015.
-Modi is also set to become the fifth Indian PM to address a joint session of the US Congress. Rajiv Gandhi was the first, in 1985. All PMs who have served a full term since have addressed the Congress - Narasimha Rao (1994), Atal Bihari Vajpayee (2000) and Manmohan Singh (2005). However, Jawaharlal Nehru had addressed the House of Representatives in 1949.
-Modi's delegation is expected to leverage his relationship with the US President and his administration to push for some key policies as Obama's presidency comes to a close.
-More critical perhaps, will be the foundation that Modi will look to lay for the next government that will be elected this November and take charge in January 2017.
-The invitation for Modi to address Congress, which came from Paul Ryan, a Republican and the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, is also an important bipartisan outreach that underlines the intention of the US political establishment to maintain a continuity in India-US relations.
-Modi is likely to meet members from both the Democratic and Republican parties, as well as members of the teams of all major presidential hopefuls.
-Modi's visit comes close on the heels of the two countries signing an intelligence sharing agreement on terrorism and a recent logistics agreement that will allow US warships to make functional stops at Indian ports.
-The timing of the visit also comes in the middle of an ongoing escalation of tensions between Washington DC and Beijing over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The US has been attempting to increase presence and influence in the Asia Pacific region under the Obama administration's 'Pivot to Asia' reorientation of US foreign policy.
-An issue of key interest that India will be looking to address during Modi's visit will be its attempts at a membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). While the US and a number of other countries support India's bid, it is extremely likely to face opposition from China, which has called for similar status to its 'all weather' ally Pakistan.