PM Modi hopes visit to US will mark a new chapter in ties

Embarking on a high-profile visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday described the US as India's "vital partner" and said that he was confident that his trip will bridge "many divisions" and mark a "new chapter" in the strategic ties.

PTI| Last Updated: Sep 25, 2014, 17:14 PM IST

New Delhi: Embarking on a high-profile visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday described the US as India's "vital partner" and said that he was confident that his trip will bridge "many divisions" and mark a "new chapter" in the strategic ties.

In a pre-deparature statement, Modi said he will discuss with President Barack Obama how the ties can be taken to a "new level" in the interest of the two countries as well as of the world.

Showering praise on Obama, Modi described his life's journey as "a remarkable testimony" to the rights and opportunities that democracies provide, and an "inspiration" for people around the world.

"I see the United States as a vital partner for our national development, drawing especially on the rich possibilities of partnership in education, skills, research, technology and innovation - and, above all, a shared commitment to human values," the Prime Minister said.

In his address at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly on Saturday, Modi said he will call for a stronger global commitment and more concerted multilateral action in addressing challenges of fragile global economy, turbulence and tension in many parts of the world, growth and spread of terrorism, the Ebola health crisis in Africa, climate change and eradication of poverty.

The Prime Minister said he will call for early adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda with a focus on growth, development and elimination of poverty.

"I will also stress the urgency of early reforms in the United Nations, to ensure that it remains relevant and effective in dealing with the challenges of the 21st century," he said.

Noting that India has been showing unwavering commitment to multilateral processes to advance peace and security and promote inclusive economic growth, he said India's contribution to UN peacekeeping operations over decades was a strong testimony of its efforts in helping the world body realise its objectives.

Modi will have a stopover in Frankfurt tonight and will reach New York tomorrow.

Talking about ties with the US, the Prime Minister exuded confidence that his visit will further boost cooperation while noting that the shared values, convergent interests and complementary strengths provide the foundation for natural partnership between the "world's oldest and largest democracies".

"I will discuss with President Obama how we can use the strength of all that we share and all that we have built so far to take our relationship to a new level in the interest of our two countries and the cause of this world. I am confident that the visit will mark the start of a new chapter in our strategic partnership," he said.

Modi would be meeting as many as 11 top corporate honchos over breakfast on September 29 apart from one-on-one meetings with six more business captains the same day in New York. He will also be participating in a business meet, to be organised by USIBC, that is expected to be attended by 300-400 businessmen in Washington on September 30.

"I look forward to meeting business leaders to invite them to participate more actively in India's economic growth and transformation. This is message that I will also convey to the US business community in Washington DC."

"My participation in a public event in Central Park in New York on poverty is to focus international attention on this great challenge for humanity and affirm my support for global civic action, especially involving the youth, to address it," said Modi.

Referring to his scheduled address at the Madison Square Garden in New York on September 28, the Prime Minister said he was keenly awaiting the opportunity to meet the Indian- American Community there.

"Their success in diverse fields, their contribution to the United States, their abiding bonds with India and their role as a vibrant bridge between the two largest democracies is a source of pride for us. They serve as a window to our heritage, progress and potential," he said. 

Modi would also be meeting the top American political leadership ranging from former president Bill Clinton and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton to Indian-American South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

In Washington, there is a very high level of expectation from Modi's meeting with President Obama.

Obama has gone out of his way to host a rare private dinner for Modi at the White House on September 29, so as to establish a personal relationship with the Indian leader.

Ahead of his main summit at the White House on September 30, Modi would visit the Martin Luther King Memorial and Lincoln Memorial in Washington and pay floral tribute to Mahatma Gandhi's statue in front of the Indian Embassy.

This would be for the first time that an Indian Prime Minister would have so many public and private engagements during a US visit.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio would make a courtesy call on the Prime Minister shortly after he arrives.

Modi would also meet Nobel laureate Harold Eliot Varmus, who is the current Director of the National Cancer Institute.

He will pay a visit to the 9/11 memorial in New York on Saturday following which he is expected to drive down to the United Nations headquarters to address the 69th annual session of UN General Assembly.

He would also meet UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon.

On Saturday, Modi would meet former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Modi is interested in seeking Bloomberg's views on the ambitious 100 smart cities project that his government has undertaken after coming to power in May this year.

The same day, the Prime Minister will drive down to the historic Central Park to address the annual Global Citizens Initiative, which aims at building a sustainable world community for all.