Modi’s state visit is real testament to growing relationship between India, US: Gifford

On May 10, the White House officially announced the state visit of Prime Minister Modi to the US.

Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit is a real testament to the growing relationship between India and the US, a top Biden administration official said on Tuesday, revealing that the planning for the historic trip was initiated in February.

Modi is visiting the US from June 21-24 at the invitation of President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, who will host him at a state dinner on June 22. The visit includes an address by the prime minister to the joint session of the US Congress on June 22.

“It’s a real testament to the relationship between our two countries,” Rufus Gifford, Chief of Protocol of the United States, told PTI in an interview, referring to the state visit – the highest level of visit that the United States offers to a foreign leader.

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“We believe we’re closer. The bilateral relationships with India are closer than ever, but we still have a lot more work to do together,” he said.

Sharing the details of the historic visit, Gifford said the planning started sometime in February when they reached out to the Indian ambassador to confirm the trip.

On May 10, the White House officially announced the state visit of Prime Minister Modi to the US.

When asked how it is different from the previous two state visits during the Biden administration, Gifford said, “every state visit is different. We want it to be very thoughtful as it relates to the country who’s our guest and really shaped the program to highlight one of the relationships that does exist historically, culturally etc”.

“Obviously, the schedule is different, meaning this one is actually, I think, a little bit busier. There’s more side events than some of that is done historically…the differences in the nuance it’s in the way that dinner is presented, it’s in the menu, it’s in the entertainment. It’s in all those little details that it feels rich, it feels very much a celebration of the American in your relationship. And certainly and we hope it feels very worthy of the largest democracy in the world, which is India,” he added.

Commenting on the state dinner to be held at the White House South Lawn, he said, “it’s gonna be a very, very special night”.

“We work with the (guest) prime minister’s office to understand what he likes…We want to get a real thing. What kind of music he likes, what kind of food he likes to eat. And then, we want it to be uniquely American, but very much honour and showing the respect that the US-India relationship deserves and that is catering to a certain extent to the likes and desires of the Prime Minister,” Gifford said.

He said the First Lady has been intimately involved in all of the elements.

“There are so many different challenges facing the global community and we know that the United States and India stand side by side on so many of the issues that we’re talking about,” he said.

He said when Prime Minister Modi concludes his visit, the US and India would be a bit closer, and the global community will feel that as well.

“We look forward to taking very good care of the prime minister from the moment he touches down in the United States to the moment he wheels up on Friday night,” he added.

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