WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday arrived at the White House to a ceremonial welcome hosted by President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden.
PM Modi and President Biden will have a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office of the White House before holding high-level talks to further boost the growing Indo-US strategic relations in areas like defence, space, clean energy and critical technologies.
Upon his arrival at the White House lawns, PM Modi who was dressed in a traditional white kurta pyjama teamed with a powder blue jacket was greeted by President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden.
A US delegation led by Vice President Kamala Harris, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin assembled to greet PM Modi.
The Indian delegation led by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, NSA Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra and Indian ambassador to the US Taranjit Sandhu were also present.
National anthems of India and the US played out as thousands of people gathered on the White House South Lawns to greet PM Modi.
“Looking forward to today’s talks with @POTUS @JoeBiden. I am confident our discussions will further strengthen India-USA relations,” PM Modi tweeted.
The Prime Minister will later also address a joint session of Congress.
The Prime Minister was welcomed by members of the Indian community, other guests who had gathered on the lawns of the White House.
Visuals show huge crowds of people waving Indian and US flags, chanting “Modi, Modi”
US First Lady earlier in her briefing about the State dinner said “…guests will walk across the South Lawn into a pavilion draped in rich greens with saffron colored flowers at every table, the colors of the Indian Flag.”
“And on the transparent sides, those colors–and the strength and heritage they represent–frame the iconic scenery and symbols of our nation, our democracy and our history: the White House and the Washington Monument,” Jill Biden said.
Grammy award winner, Joshua Bell and a performance by Penn Masala, acapella group from the University of Pennsylvania will entertain guests after the dinner.
Some people were seen waving banners that read: “Indian American Diaspora welcomes Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi”.
A woman among the crowd that had gathered at the South Lawn said: “I have seen Presidents of many countries visiting the US, but never seen such a large crowd gathered here to welcome them. This crowd here means that he (PM Modi) is doing good.”
CEO of the National US-India Chamber of Commerce and former advisor to the US State Department of Commerce, Poornima Voria, said: “What an incredible moment! We are proud of our Prime Minister. Never before so many people were allowed to come to the South Lawns of the White House.”
PM Modi had on Wednesday arrived in Washington DC after overseeing a special Yoga session on the lawns of the United Nations headquarters in New York City.
United States President on Wednesday (local time) hosted PM Modi for an intimate dinner at the White House before the high-profile state dinner.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his US counterpart Jake Sullivan also attended the dinner, which featured the President’s favourite foods- pasta and ice cream.
During the dinner, the trio enjoyed a musical tribute to the regions of India, performed by youth dancers from Studio Dhoom, a DMV-based Indian dance studio that helps connect a new generation to the vibrant culture of Indian dance, according to the White House.
The leaders also exchanged gifts at the White House. PM Modi presented a special sandalwood box to US President Biden that has been handcrafted by a master craftsman from Jaipur, Rajasthan. He also gifted a lab-grown 7.5-carat green diamond and ‘papier mache’ to US First Lady Jill Biden.
Joe Biden and Jill Biden presented PM Modi with a handmade, antique American book galley from the early 20th Century. Biden also gifted a vintage American camera, accompanied by an archival facsimile print of George Eastman’s Patent of the first Kodak camera, and a hardcover book of American wildlife photography. Jill Biden gifted a signed, first-edition copy of “Collected Poems of Robert Frost” to PM Modi.
Prime Minister Modi then thanked US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for hosting him at the White House. PM Modi noted that they held “great conversation” on several subjects.
Tomorrow local time Prime Minister Modi will be jointly hosted at a luncheon by US Vice President Kamala Harris and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
In addition to official engagements, Prime Minister Modi is also scheduled to have several interactions with leading CEOs, professionals, and other stakeholders.
He will also meet members of the Indian diaspora. (ANI)