Washington: In one of the most awaited meets scheduled to take place this year, US President Barack Obama on Monday hosted a private dinner for PM Narendra Modi, who was once shunned by America, at the White House here.
The duo will hold summit level talk today to reset stalled India-US relations. After the dinner, Modi described the meet with Obama as wonderful, adding the duo discussed a number of issues.
Briefing reporters after the 90-minute meet, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin described the first talks between the two leaders at dinner as “convivial and comforting.
“Kem Cho”, asked Obama when he welcomed Modi, who replied, “Thank you very much, Mr President”.
The dinner, with limited guests from each side in the Blue Room of the White House might have a delectable spread of dishes, but the main guest only had warm water as he was observing Navratri fasts. However, Modi told Obama to “please go ahead as normal”.
On the issues of discussion during the dinner meeting, Akabruddin said discussions were largely on knowing each other and sharing the initial experiences after they took over. They shared anecdotes to connect with each other, he said while describing the dinner meeting as a “very successful interaction”.
The Prime Minister was asked to outline his vision of what were the issues he faced so far and how he was working on it, the spokesperson said. Remarkably some of those things the Prime Minister mentioned seemed to have resonance with President Obama, because he said he had similar concerns when he came in power.
Modi was accompanied by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Indian Ambassador to the US, S Jaishankar among others. As Obama hosted Modi for dinner, the local Indian-Americans celebrated the Modi-Obama meeting by organising a cultural event and performing “Garbha” dance in front of the White House.
Obama received Modi at the South Gate of the White House and the dinner was held in Blue Room of the President’s official residence. The Blue Room is used for receptions and receiving lines, and is occasionally set for small dinners.
The Prime Minister, who arrived here late afternoon at the Andrew Airforce Base, was received by William Burns, Deputy Secretary of State and other senior officials. From there, Modi left for the Blair house, the American President’s guest house where he will be staying during his Washington trip. Later, he drove to the White House from the Blair guest house for the dinner.