U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar met in Hiroshima on Sunday to discuss plans for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to the United States in June. The discussions included possible plans for a “short retreat” outside Washington. While there is no clarity on whether a large diaspora event on the lines of the 2018 “Howdy Modi” address in Houston would be included, the Prime Minister is expected to address a large gathering of U.S. CEOs and Chambers of Commerce, and attend a reception for the Indian diaspora organised by the Indian Embassy.
During their meeting, Secretary Blinken wrote in a tweet, “We look forward to hosting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June, whose visit will celebrate the deep partnership between the United States and India,” which Mr. Jaishankar thanked him for. U.S. President Biden also reportedly referred to the upcoming visit during the Quad meeting held on the sidelines of the G-7 summit on Saturday. According to reports from media agencies, President Biden had joked that he should seek PM Modi’s “autograph” because there is a “huge demand from people across U.S. to attend the State dinner next month.” However, neither the Ministry of External Affairs nor the U.S. Embassy in Delhi confirmed these remarks.
While the state visit will include a ceremonial welcome at the White House and a state banquet, the visiting dignitaries are also often accorded a lunch at the State Department to meet with the Vice-President and Secretary of State. Moreover, the two governments are discussing a short trip outside Washington by Mr. Biden and Mr. Modi, where officials have discussed the possibility of the two leaders travelling to the U.S. Presidential retreat for hosting foreign dignitaries at Camp David, or Mr. Biden’s private vacation home at Rehoboth beach.
Sources say that a number of possible plans for the visit are still being finalized, including a possible “short retreat.” Mr. Modi has previously shared such “retreat” sojourns with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Schloss Meseberg palace outside Berlin, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron in Chequers, Russian President Vladimir Putin at his Dacha in Sochi, and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan.
India Caucus co-chair Ro Khanna also confirmed that he was writing to the U.S. Speaker to request that PM Modi also address the U.S. Congress. The Prime Minister is expected to reach Washington on June 22, ahead of the official events on June 23.
Furthermore, President Biden is set to visit India in September this year for the G-20 summit and in 2024, when it will be India’s turn to host the next Quad Summit. PM Modi will be the third State Guest that U.S. President Biden will host during his presidency, after French President Emmanuel Macron in December 2022 and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.
Regarding the U.S. State Department report on international religious freedom that criticised the Modi government for the “continued targeting of minorities” in India, India had sharply rejected the report a week earlier. When asked on Thursday, MEA officials had sidestepped a question on whether the issue would be raised during the India-US bilateral meeting as well.
In conclusion, the visit of Prime Minister Modi to the United States in June is expected to include a number of possible plans and events, including a state banquet, a lunch at the State Department, a large gathering of U.S. CEOs and Chambers of Commerce, and a reception for the Indian diaspora. While details are still being finalized, a possible “short retreat” outside Washington is also being discussed, which could include travelling to the U.S Presidential retreat at Camp David or Mr. Biden’s private vacation home at Rehoboth beach. The visit is expected to celebrate the deep partnership between the United States and India.